Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity: An Independent Marker of Cardiovascular Risk

Michel E. Safar, MD, Olivier Henry, MD, Sylvie Meaume, MD


Am J Geriatr Cardiol. 2002;11(5) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Aortic pulse wave velocity, a classic index of aortic stiffness, may be easily measured in humans using noninvasive ultrasound methods of high reproducibility. Recent epidemiologic studies have shown that, independently of confounding factors such as age, blood pressure and cardiac mass, aortic pulse wave velocity is a predictor of cardiovascular mortality in populations of hypertensive subjects, whether they have end-stage renal disease or not. Since aortic pulse wave velocity is dominantly influenced by age, this finding may be of major importance for the evaluation of cardiovascular risk in geriatric populations.

Large artery damage is a major contributor to cardiovascular (CV) diseases and therefore requires an early evaluation in the general context of CV risk factors. Several methods have been proposed to analyze the structure and function of large arteries.[1] Most of them are complex or need sophisticated technical equipment, which limits their application in clinical practice. Among the noninvasive and simple methods of evaluating arteries, pulse wave velocity (PWV) measurement is widely used as an index of large artery elasticity and stiffness.[2] This method is simple, accurate, and reproducible, and thus can easily be applied for the evaluation of CV risk.