Measurement of blood pressure together with applanation tonometry at the radial artery allows the reproducible assessment of various indexes of arterial stiffness, including the peripheral (PPp) and central pulse pressures (PPc) and the peripheral (Alp) and central augmentation indexes (Alc). We defined preliminary diagnostic thresholds, using the distributional characteristics of these hemodynamic measurements in a reference population. We randomly recruited 870 subjects from 3 European populations. PPp was the average difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure measured five times at one home visit. For measurement of PPc, Alp and Alc, we used the SphygmoCor device. We selected subjects without hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia in need of medical treatment or previous or concomitant cardiovascular disease. The study population included 228 men and 306 women (mean age 34.9 years). All hemodynamic measurements were curvilinearly related to age, and Alp and Alc were lower in men than in women. In men at age 40, the upper 95% prediction bands of the relations of the hemodynamic measurements with age approximated 60 mmHg for PPp, 40 mmHg for PPc, 90% for Alp, and 30% for Alc. For PPc, Alp and Alc, these thresholds must be adjusted for age, leading to lower and higher thresholds at younger and older age, respectively. In addition, in women of any age, the Alp and Alc thresholds must be increased by 10% and 7%, respectively. Pending validation in prospective outcome studies, distributional characteristics of arterial stiffness indexes in a reference population can be used to generate operational thresholds for use in clinical practice.
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