Arterial stiffness as a vascular contribution to cognitive impairment: a fluid dynamics perspective

Trevor Tucker
Biomedical Physics & Engineering Express 2021 January 22
A model of cerebral pulsatile blood through multiple arterial bifurcations is developed, based on the physics of wave propagation in compliant vessels. The model identifies the conditions for the optimum antegrade flow of blood into the arterioles as a function of the areas and stiffnesses of the arteries. The model predicts and quantifies the reduction in vessel diameter which occurs in progressing from the large central arteries into the arterioles. It also predicts and quantifies the change in vessel compliance which occurs in progressing from the large central arteries, through the small arteries, into the arterioles. Physics predicts that the clinically observed compliance changes are consistent with the efficient delivery of blood to the cerebral capillary bed. The model predicts that increasing arterial stiffening with age, reduces pulsatile cerebral blood flow substantially, potentially resulting in ischemia, hypoperfusion and hypoxia, with attendant neurological and cognition consequences. The model predicts that while central pulse pressure increases with aging, small vessel pulse pressure reduces, contrary to the concept of a pressure wave tsunami in the small vessels. The model also predicts that increased luminal diameters with increasing age, mitigate, somewhat the negative consequences of arterial stiffening, a form of adaptive arterial remodelling.

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