A reduction in central arterial compliance has been identified as an independent risk factor for future cardiovascular disease. The aim of the present study was to determine the influence of age-related carotid arterial enlargement on carotid arterial compliance in postmenopausal females, using a cross-sectional study design. Carotid arterial properties were measured with applanation tonometry and ultrasound system in 113 normotensive females (aged 50-78). Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) measured by a plethysmographic technique was used as an index of arterial stiffness. In comparisons among the three age groups (50-59, 60-69, and 70-78 years old), baPWV (F=11.9, p<0.001) and carotid systolic (F=4.5, p<0.05) and pulse pressures (F=9.6, p<0.0001), and lumen diameter (F=5.6, p<0.01) increased with advancing age. Carotid arterial compliance gradually decreased with age, but not significantly. A stepwise regression analysis revealed that carotid systolic pressure and lumen diameter and age were independent correlates of carotid arterial compliance. After carotid lumen diameter was taken into account (ANCOVA), the differences in carotid arterial compliance among the three age groups became significant (F=3.8, p<0.05). These results suggest that an increase in arterial lumen diameter might compensate for the age-related increase in arterial stiffness and limit the deterioration of the buffering capacity of the central artery in normotensive postmenopausal female.
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