Hemodynamic shear stress is the frictional force of blood on the arterial wall. The shear pattern in the conduit artery affects the endothelium and may participate in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. We investigated the role of the shear pattern in age- and aerobic exercise-induced changes in conduit artery wall thickness via cross-sectional and interventional studies. In a cross-sectional study, we found that brachial shear rate patterns and brachial artery intima-media thickness (IMT) correlated with age. Additionally, brachial artery shear rate patterns were associated with brachial artery IMT in 102 middle-aged and older individuals. In an interventional study, 39 middle-aged and older subjects were divided into 2 groups: control and exercise. The exercise group completed 12 weeks of aerobic exercise training. Aerobic exercise training significantly increased the antegrade shear rate and decreased the retrograde shear rate and brachial artery IMT. Moreover, changes in the brachial artery antegrade shear rate and the retrograde shear rate correlated with the change in brachial artery IMT. The results of the present study indicate that changes in brachial artery shear rate patterns may contribute to age- and aerobic exercise training-induced changes in brachial artery wall thickness.
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