Hypertension and arterial stiffness: The atherosclerosis risk in communities study

Donna K. Arnett, Lori L. Boland, Gregory W. Evans, Ward Riley, Ralph Barnes, H. A. Tyroler, Gerardo Heiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Our objective was to describe the relationship of arterial stiffness and hypertension in a large, population-based sample of men and women. Hypertension-related increases in arterial stiffness may reflect the distending pressure and/or structural alterations in the artery. Included were 10,712 participants, ages 45 to 64 years, of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, free of prevalent cardiovascular disease. Hypertension was classified as systolic or diastolic blood pressure (BP) ≥140/90 mm Hg, respectively, or the current use of antihypertensive medications. Common carotid arterial diameter change was measured using B-mode ultrasound and an electronic device that utilized radio frequency signals to track the motion of the arterial walls. Using statistical models to control for diastolic BP and pulse pressure, arterial diameter change was calculated separately in normotensive/ nonmedicated and medicated hypertensives. Hypertension was associated with a smaller adjusted diameter change (ie, greater stiffness) in comparison to optimal blood pressure (BP < 120/80 mm Hg): normotensive/nonmedicated men, 0.33 versus 0.43 mm (P < 0.001); medicated men, 0.34 versus 0.42 mm (P < 0.001); normotensive/ nonmedicated women, 0.34 versus 0.40 mm (P < 0.001), and medicated women, 0.33 versus 0.40 mm (P < 0.001). The relationship between pulse pressure and diameter change (ie, the slope of pulse pressure and diameter change) did not differ between hypertensives and normotensives. These cross-sectional data suggest that hypertension is associated with carotid arterial stiffness; however, these differences in the calculated stiffness appear to be the effect of distending pressure rather than structural changes in the carotid artery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hypertension
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The ARIC Study was funded by contracts N01-HC-55015, N01-HC-55016, N01-HC 55018, N01-HC-55019, N01-HC-55020, N01-HC-55021, and N01-HC-55022 from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Epidemiology
  • Hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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