BP+ Education

Arterial Stiffness

Cross-section of artery showing atherosclerosis

Cross-section of artery showing atherosclerosis

What is arterial stiffness?

Arterial stiffness is a general term for the elasticity (or compliance) of the arteries. The hardening or stiffening of the arteries is called arteriosclerosis. The stiffness of arteries influences how hard the heart has to work to pump blood through the body.

Why is arterial stiffness important?

Various measures of arterial stiffness in the large arteries have been shown to predict the likelihood of future cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, which may lead to death. In addition, these measures of arterial stiffness have been shown to be better predictors than other commonly measured parameters such as upper arm blood pressure.

How can large artery stiffness be measured?

There are several ways of measuring large artery stiffness, including:

How does BP+ measure arterial stiffness?

BP+ technology allows quick, easy and accurate measurement of augmentation index and central blood pressure; both recognized indicators of large artery stiffness.

What about the stiffness of the small arteries?

The stiffness of small arteries has been related to other types of disease such as diabetes, but is not strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes.

How is arterial stiffness related to blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a symptom of underlying processes. The strength of each heart beat contributes to blood pressure. The resistance to the blood flow provided by the arteries is also an important determinant of blood pressure.

When the large arteries are stiff, resistance is greater and blood pressure increases. Conversely, when arteries are compliant and reactive, the heart does not need to work so hard to deliver blood to the rest of the body.

What can be done about high arterial stiffness?

There are many ways to reduce arterial stiffness.