Impact of age and sex on carotid and peripheral arterial wall thickness in humans

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Although previous studies have reported age‐related wall thickening in carotid arteries, it is not clear whether this is a systemic phenomenon which is also apparent in peripheral conduit arteries or whether conduit wall thickness (WT) changes occur to a similar degree in men and women.

To determine whether sex modifies the impact of ageing on WT or wall‐to‐lumen ratio (W:L) in atherosclerosis‐prone (i.e. carotid artery, femoral, superficial femoral, popliteal artery) and atherosclerosis‐resistant (i.e. brachial artery) conduit arteries.

We included 30 young (23 ± 2 year; 15M : 15F) and 31 older (70 ± 5 year; 18M : 13F) healthy subjects. High‐resolution ultrasound was used to measure diameter, WT and wall‐to‐lumen ratio (W/L) in all arteries.

Older subjects had increased WT and W/L in the carotid, femoral, superficial femoral, popliteal and brachial arteries (all P < 0.05). Compared with women, men demonstrated larger diameter and WT (both P < 0.01) across all arteries. Sex did not impact upon age‐related changes in WT or W/L (P = 0.39 and 0.43 respectively).

Our data suggest that age‐related wall thickening, evident in the carotid artery, is also apparent in the arteries of the upper and lower limbs. The impact of age on wall thickening did not differ between men and women. These data support the presence of systemic increases in WT and W/L with age in apparently healthy humans, independent of sex.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2012

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