Korean J Med.  2019 Dec;94(6):500-510. 10.3904/kjm.2019.94.6.500.

Interpretation of the Results of Arterial Stiffness Tests

  • 1Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kangwon National University Hospital, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea. rdr0203@hanmail.net


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Early detection of subclinical atherosclerosis is important for reduction of cardiovascular risk. However, the current diagnostic strategy, which focuses on traditional risk factors or the use of risk scoring, is unsatisfactory. Arterial walls thicken and stiffen with age, a process known as arteriosclerosis. There is a close interaction between arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis. Increased luminal pressure and shear stress caused by arterial stiffening result in endothelial dysfunction, accelerate the formation of atheromas, and stimulate excessive collagen production and deposition in the arterial wall. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) has been shown to predict cardiovascular risk in many large studies. However, there is controversy regarding the value of CIMT for prediction of cardiovascular risk because of differences in study design, specifically with respect to CIMT measurements. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is the most widely used measure of arterial stiffness; measurement of PWV is simple, non-invasive, and reproducible. Many clinical studies and meta-analyses have shown that PWV has predictive value in cardiovascular disease beyond traditional risk factors, both in the general population and in patients with various diseases. Brachial pressure has been a poor surrogate for aortic pressure for more than 50 years. However, recent studies have shown a closer relationship between central blood pressure and intermediate cardiovascular phenotypes or cardiovascular target organ damage, compared to the respective relationships with brachial blood pressure. Considering the non-invasiveness and ability to collect multiple types of clinical data, measurement of CIMT, PWV, and central blood pressure may be useful to identify patients at high risk for development of cardiovascular disease.


Arterial stiffness; Carotid intima-media thickness; Pulse wave velocity; Central blood pressure

MeSH Terms

Arterial Pressure
Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular Diseases
Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
Plaque, Atherosclerotic
Pulse Wave Analysis
Risk Factors
Vascular Stiffness*
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