Background Arterial stiffness independently predicts cardiovascular disease. However, few studies have evaluated the associations of central and peripheral pulse wave velocity (PWV) with biomarkers of both myocardial stress (natriuretic peptide [NT-proBNP]) and damage (high-sensitivity cardiac troponin-T [hs-cTnT]) among persons without cardiac disease. Methods We examined 3,348 participants (67–90 years) without prevalent cardiac disease in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study (2011–13). The cross-sectional associations of PWV quartiles for central arterial segments (carotid-femoral, heart-carotid, heart-femoral) and peripheral artery (femoral-ankle) with NT-proBNP and hs-cTnT were evaluated accounting for potential confounders. Results Most PWV measures demonstrated J- or U-shaped associations with the two cardiac biomarkers. The highest (Q4) vs. second lowest (Q2) quartile of central PWV measures (carotid-femoral, heart-carotid, heart-femoral PWV) were associated with higher levels of NT-proBNP independently of demographic characteristics. The associations were less evident for hs-cTnT. These associations were attenuated after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, but the heart-carotid PWV-NT-proBNP relationship remained borderline significant (difference in log-NT-proBNP = 0.08 [-0.01, 0.17] in Q4 vs. Q2, p = 0.07). Peripheral PWV demonstrated inverse associations. Higher values of NT-proBNP were seen in the lowest vs. second lowest quartile of all PWV measures. Conclusions Central stiffness measures showed stronger associations with cardiac biomarkers (particularly NT-proBNP) than peripheral measures among older adults without cardiac disease. Our findings are consistent with the concept of ventricular-vascular coupling and suggest that central rather than peripheral arterial hemodynamics are more closely related to myocardial stress rather than damage.
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