Greater very short- to midterm blood pressure variability (BPV) has been associated with an increased cardiovascular disease risk, especially stroke. However, this link remains incompletely understood. We hypothesized that increased arterial stiffness and maladaptive carotid arterial remodeling may underlie this association. We, therefore, investigated the association between very short- to midterm systolic BPV, aortic and carotid stiffness and carotid arterial remodeling using cross-sectional data from The Maastricht Study (aged 60±8 years; 53% men). Aortic (carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, n=1671) and carotid stiffness (ultrasonography, n=1690) were assessed. A composite index of systolic BPV was derived by standardizing and averaging systolic within-visit, 24-hour, and 7-day BPV. We performed linear regression analyses with adjustment for age, sex, glucose metabolism status, mean arterial pressure, and cardiovascular risk factors. A 1-SD greater systolic BPV was statistically significantly associated with 0.10 m/s (95% CI, 0.01–0.20) greater carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, but not with carotid distensibility (−0.033×10−3/kPa [−0.255 to 0.190]). In addition, a 1-SD greater systolic BPV was statistically significantly associated with greater carotid circumferential wall tension (0.84 dyne/cm [0.51–1.17]), circumferential wall stress (0.79 kPa [0.031–1.27]), and intima-media thickness (8.6 µm [1.0–16.3]). These results are indicative of maladaptive carotid remodeling, as circumferential wall tension and stress were not normalized despite greater intima-media thickness. In conclusion, greater very short- to midterm BPV is associated with greater aortic stiffness and maladaptive carotid arterial remodeling, but not with carotid stiffness. These findings may explain, at least partially, the increased BPV-associated cardiovascular disease risk, in particular stroke.
Tan Lai Zhou, Ronald M.A. Henry, Coen D.A. Stehouwer, Thomas T. van Sloten, Koen D. Reesink, Abraham A. Kroon