Age-related abnormalities in arterial compliance identified by pressure pulse contour analysis: Aging and arterial compliance

Gary E. McVeigh, Christopher W. Bratteli, Dennis J. Morgan, Cheryl M. Alinder, Stephen P. Glasser, Stanley M Finkelstein, Jay N Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

321 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate age-related changes in pulsatile arterial function. Aging alters arterial pulsatile function and produces consistent changes in the pressure pulse contour. A reduced systemic arterial compliance that can be derived from analysis of the pulse contour is regarded as the best clinical index of impaired pulsatile arterial function and may mark the presence of early vascular damage. We analyzed intra- arterial brachial artery waveforms in 115 healthy normotensive volunteers (83 men, 32 women) and radial artery waveforms obtained with the use of a calibrated tonometer device in 212 healthy volunteers (147 women, 65 men). A computer-based assessment of the diastolic pressure decay and a modified Windkessel model of the circulation were used to quantify changes in arterial waveform morphology in terms of large artery or capacitive compliance, oscillatory or reflective compliance in the small arteries, inertance, and systemic vascular resistance. Large artery compliance and oscillatory compliance correlated negatively with age for both invasive and noninvasive groups (r=-0.50 and r=-0.55; r=-0.37 and r=-0.66; P<0.001 for all). The slopes of the regression lines for the decline in oscillatory compliance with age were significantly steeper than those recorded for large artery compliance estimates. The change in blood pressure with age independently contributed to the decrease in large artery compliance but not oscillatory compliance in both groups. Consistent age-related changes were found in the pressure pulse contour by analysis of waveforms obtained invasively or noninvasively from the upper limb. The change in the oscillatory or reflective compliance estimate was independent of blood pressure change and may represent a better marker than large artery or capacitive compliance of the degenerative, aging process in altering pulsatile arterial function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1392-1398
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999


  • Age
  • Compliance
  • Impedance
  • Resistance


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