Arterial stiffening is central in the vascular aging process. Traditionally, vascular research has focused on atherosclerotic vascular disease, whereas arterial stiffness has not attracted similar attention.
The purpose of this study was to assess lifetime trajectories of arterial stiffening in Chinese populations facing a high burden of cardiovascular disease, with a particular focus on age-sex interactions and potential determinants.
This large-scale observational study comprised 2 independent cross-sectional population samples and 1 prospective cohort totaling 80,415 healthy subjects with brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) measurements available. Associations with potential risk conditions were analyzed using linear regression, linear random intercepts mixed models, and L1-regularized linear models.
The dynamics of age-dependent arterial stiffening differed in sexes, with stiffer vessel observed in men from adolescence to age 58 years and in women thereafter. The steeper increase in baPWV in women after menopause is partly explained by the fact that vascular risk factors are more strongly associated with arterial stiffness in women than in men. Age and systolic blood pressures were the strongest determinants of baPWV, whereas other vascular and metabolic risk factors, except low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, showed consistent associations of moderate strength.
The significant age-sex interaction in arterial stiffening provides an important clue of explanation for the heightened cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopausal women. Detailed knowledge on lifetime trajectories of arterial stiffening, and its potential risk factors is a prerequisite for the development of new prevention strategies counteracting vascular aging.

Copyright © 2020 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.