Pulse wave velocity as a reflection of aortic stiffness is "a strong predictor of future cardiovascular events," according to a report from Greece.
Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos and colleagues at Athens Medical School conducted a meta-analysis to assess the predictive value of aortic pulse wave velocity for cardiac and vascular events and for death from any cause.
Their analysis included 17 longitudinal studies in which researchers had followed 15,877 subjects for a mean of nearly 8 years.
In the March 30th issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers report that 6 studies analyzed the relative risks of adverse events by tertiles. The pooled relative risks for these subjects increased in a stepwise, linear fashion from the first to the third tertile of aortic pulse wave velocity.
When the researchers analyzed each outcome separately, they found that compared to individuals with low pulse wave velocity, those with high velocities had pooled relative risks of 2.26 for any cardiovascular event, 2.02 for cardiovascular death, and 1.90 for all-cause mortality.
For every 1 m/s increase in aortic pulse wave velocity, adjusted risk rose by 14% for total cardiovascular events, 15% for cardiovascular mortality, and 15% for all-cause mortality.
Each increase in aortic pulse wave velocity by one standard deviation from the norm brought subjects' cardiovascular event risk up by 47%, cardiovascular mortality risk up by 47%, and all-cause mortality risk up by 42%.
"An important finding of our study was that the predictive ability of aortic stiffness is higher in patients with higher baseline risk (such as patients with end-stage renal disease, or coronary artery disease or hypertension) compared to subjects with lower baseline risk (such as subjects of general population)," Dr. Vlachopoulos told Reuters Health by email. "In other words, the same increase of this index implies greater risk in a coronary artery disease patient compared to an apparently healthy subject."
J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:1318-1327.
Michelle Rizzo, Reuters Health Information © 2010