Correlates of aortic stiffness in elderly individuals: A subgroup of the cardiovascular health study

Rachel H. Mackey, Kim Sutton-Tyrrell, Peter V. Vaitkevicius, Pamela A. Sakkinen, Mary F. Lyles, Harold A. Spurgeon, Edward G. Lakatta, Lewis H. Kuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Background: Arterial stiffness has been associated with aging, hypertension, and diabetes; however, little data has been published examining risk factors associated with arterial stiffness in elderly individuals. Methods: Longitudinal associations were made between aortic stiffness and risk factors measured approximately 4 years earlier. Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV), an established index of arterial stiffness, was measured in 356 participants (53.4% women, 25.3% African American), aged 70 to 96 years, from the Pittsburgh site of the Cardiovascular Health Study during 1996 to 1998. Results: Mean aortic pulse wave velocity (850 cra/sec, range 365 to 1863) did not differ by ethnicity or sex. Increased aortic stiffness was positively associated with higher systolic blood pressure (SBP), age, fasting and 2-h postload glucose, fasting and 2-h insulin, triglycerides, waist circumference, body mass index, truncal fat, decreased physical activity, heart rate, and common carotid artery wall thickness (P < .05). After controlling for age and SBP, the strongest predictors of aortic stiffness in men were heart rate (P = .001) and 2-h glucose (P = .063). In women, PWV was positively associated with heart rate (P = .018), use of antihypertensive medication (P = .035), waist circumference (P = .030), and triglycerides (P = .081), and was negatively associated with physical activity (P = .111). Results were similar when the analysis was repeated in nondiabetic individuals and in those free of clinical or subclinical cardiovascular disease in 1992 to 1993. Conclusions: In these elderly participants, aortic stiffness was positively associated with risk factors associated with the insulin resistance syndrome, increased common carotid intima-media thickness, heart rate, and decreased physical activity measured several years earlier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Heart rate
  • Insulin resistance
  • Pulse wave velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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