Arterial elastic properties in man: A comparison of echo-Doppler indices of aortic stiffness

F. Lacombe, A. Dart, E. Dewar, G. Jennings, J. Cameron, E. Laufer

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Non-invasive assessment of mechanical properties of the aorta may prove useful in the early detection of atheroma. We have evaluated several of the available echocardiographic indices using ability to detect age-related changes in putatively disease-free vessels as a measure of sensitivity to changes in aortic mechanical properties. Suprasternal imaging was used in 49 healthy non-smoking volunteers to measure minimum and maximum aortic arch diameters. Maximal flow velocities, with corresponding acceleration times and heart periods, were determined in the descending aorta in 24 of these subjects. Blood pressure was recorded non-invasively immediately after the echocardiographic study. Doppler derived measurements of aortic flow acceleration did not relate to age (P>0.05). Three different 2D echo assessments of aortic distensibility, however, all showed a close relationship to age. Ep elastic modulus and Beta index (derived from different stress-strain mechanical relationships) were significantly related to age with r = 0.69 and 0.65 respectively. There were no significant effects of gender or left ventricular systolic function on these relationships. There was a tendency for the relationship between these distensibility indices and age more closely to fit an exponential than a linear relationship. We conclude that 2D echocardiographic assessment of aortic distensibility is able to detect sensitively changes in aortic mechanical properties. Even in the absence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease there is a marked reduction in aortic distensibility with increasing age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1045
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Age
  • Aorta
  • Echocardiography
  • Elasticity

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