Ultrasonographic strain imaging is superior to conventional non-invasive measures of vascular stiffness in the detection of age-dependent differences in the mechanical properties of the common carotid artery.Eur J Echocardiogr. 2010 Aug; 11(7):630-6.EJ
Elastic properties of large arteries have been shown to deteriorate with age and in the presence of atherosclerotic vascular disease. In this study, the performance of ultrasonographic strain measurements was compared with conventional measures of vascular stiffness in the detection of age-dependent differences in the elastic properties of the common carotid artery (CCA).
METHODS AND RESULTS
In 10 younger (25-28 years, four women) and 10 older (50-59 years, four women) healthy individuals, global and regional circumferential, and radial strain variables were measured in the short-axis view of the right CCA using ultrasonographic two-dimensional (2D) strain imaging with recently introduced speckle tracking technique. Conventional elasticity variables, elastic modulus (E(p)), and beta stiffness index, were calculated using M-mode sonography and non-invasive blood pressure measurements. Global and regional circumferential systolic strain and strain rate values were significantly higher (P < 0.01 for regional late systolic strain rate, P < 0.001 otherwise) in the younger individuals, whereas the values of conventional stiffness variables in the same group were lower (P < 0.05). Among all strain and conventional stiffness variables, principal component analysis and its regression extension identified only circumferential systolic strain variables as contributing significantly to the observed discrimination between the younger and older age groups.
Ultrasonographic 2D-strain imaging is a sensitive method for the assessment of elastic properties in the CCA, being in this respect superior to the conventional measures of vascular stiffness. The method has potential to become a valuable non-invasive tool in the detection of early atherosclerotic vascular changes.