Longitudinal Effects of a Decade of Aging on Carotid Artery Stiffness
The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
Background and Purpose—Arterial stiffening is associated with hypertension, stroke, and cognitive decline; however, the effects of aging and cardiovascular disease risk factors on carotid artery stiffening have not been assessed prospectively in a large multiethnic longitudinal study.
Methods—Distensibility coefficient and the Young’s elastic modulus (YEM) of the right common carotid artery were calculated at baseline and after a mean of 9.4 (standard deviation [SD], 0.5) years in 2650 participants. Effects of age and cardiovascular disease risk factors were evaluated by multivariable mixed regression and ANCOVA models.
Results—At baseline, participants were 59.9 (SD, 9.4) years old (53% women; 25% black, 22% Hispanic, 14% Chinese). YEM increased from 1581 (SD, 927) to 1749 (SD, 1306) mm Hg (P<0.0001), and distensibility coefficient decreased from 3.1 (SD, 1.3) to 2.7 (SD, 1.1)×10–3 mm Hg−1 (P<0.001), indicating progressive arterial stiffening. YEM increased more among participants who were aged >75 years old at baseline (P<0.0001). In multivariable analyses, older age and less education independently predicted worsening YEM and distensibility coefficient. Stopping antihypertensive medication during the study period predicted more severe worsening of YEM (β=360.2 mm Hg; P=0.008). Starting antihypertensive medication after examination 1 was predictive of improvements in distensibility coefficient (β=1.1×10–4 mm Hg–1; P=0.024).
Conclusions—Arterial stiffening accelerates with advanced age. Older individuals experience greater increases in YEM than do younger adults, even after considering the effects of traditional risk factors. Treating hypertension may slow the progressive decline in carotid artery distensibility observed with aging and improve cerebrovascular health.
- Received July 15, 2013.
- Accepted October 8, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.