Measurements of pulse wave velocity are generally thought to be too impractical for clinical routine. This study aimed to develop a method that can be performed during routine 12-channel ECG.
A 12-channel ECG simultaneously supplies arterial impedance plethysmographic signals from the extremities beside segmental multifrequency impedance measurements for obtaining body composition. The origin of the plethysmographic signal (volume wave) at the arms and legs was determined at the level of the elbows and the knees. The volume wave velocity (VWV) at the aorta and femoral arteries was calculated from the time difference of the plethysmographic signals between arms and legs.
Automated measurement of VWV was highly reproducible (r = 0.96). In 107 participants in perfect health, VWV in different models was positively related to age, physiological hemoglobin A 1C, triglycerides, normal standardized unattended blood pressure, but not to physiological low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Aortofemoral VWV was significantly higher in patients with established coronary artery disease than in healthy controls of the same age group (18.1 ± 5.8 vs. 11.9 ± 1.7 m/s, P < 0.001). VWV in study participants was higher than tonometrically determined pulse wave velocity as muscular arteries are included (13.2 ± 5.81 vs. 8.8 ± 2.98 m/s, n = 115, P < 0.001).
These background arterial impedance plethysmographic measurements for the measurement of VWV made simultaneously during 12-channel ECG show promise for large-scale, routine clinical assessment of large artery function.