Arterial compliance to stratify cardiovascular risk: More precision in therapeutic decision making

Jay N. Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The focus of attention in preventing and treating cardiovascular (CV) disease today is shifting toward the arterial wall. Evidence has been accumulating for several years that protecting the endothelium is key to reducing CV risk. Endothelial dysfunction results in reduced compliance, or increased arterial stiffness, particularly in the smaller arteries. This abnormality is characteristic of patients with hypertension but may also be seen in normotensive patients before the appearance of clinical disease. Reduced arterial compliance is also seen in patients with diabetes and in smokers, and is part of a vicious cycle that further elevates blood pressure, aggravates atherosclerosis, and leads to increased CV risk. Although other factors are involved, the damage to the endothelium results in reduced secretion of nitric oxide, which influences smooth muscle growth, migration, and contraction, as well as influencing inflammation and clotting. Arterial compliance can be measured by several techniques, most of which are invasive or otherwise not clinically appropriate. Pulse contour analysis is a newly developed noninvasive method that allows for easy, in-office measurement of arterial elasticity to identify patients at risk for CV events before disease becomes clinically apparent. Further research is needed to confirm whether this method offers a means of improving risk stratification and therapeutic decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258S-263S
JournalAmerican journal of hypertension
Issue number8 II
StatePublished - 2001


  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Arterial compliance
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Endothelium
  • Hypertension
  • Nitric oxide
  • Vascular wall
  • Vasculature


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