Human common carotid wall shear stress as a function of age and gender: a 12-year follow-up study.Age (Dordr). 2012 Dec; 34(6):1553-62.A
Hemodynamic forces play a role in the development of atherosclerosis. Their variations with age have been assessed in cross-sectional, but not longitudinal, studies. The aim of the present study was to investigate in both sexes the age-dependent change in wall shear stress and arterial stiffness in subjects studied twice 12 years apart. Forty-eight subjects (15 women and 33 men) were studied twice 12 years apart. Subjects underwent blood viscosity measurement and echo-Doppler of carotid arteries, from which the intima-media thickness (IMT) was measured and the wall shear stress and Peterson's elastic modulus were calculated. Blood viscosity increased in both sexes, more markedly in women (+13.2%) than men (+7.2%). Common carotid diameter increased in both sexes, but in men (+7.4%) more than in women (+5.5%). Peak and mean velocity decreased at follow-up by 10.7% and 18.9% in women and by 14.2% and 18.1% in men. Peak and mean shear stress significantly decreased in men by 13.0% and 17.5%, respectively, while in women only the mean shear stress was reduced (-11.8%). The IMT of the common carotid artery increased by 29% in women and 20% in men. Arterial stiffness significantly increased (+74.5% in women and +28.0% in men). The percent change in mean shear stress was significantly and inversely associated with the percent change in IMT. The data of this study show that, in a middle-aged population observed for almost 12 years, the mean shear stress decreases significantly in both sexes, while peak shear stress decreases significantly only in men. The change in mean shear stress is inversely associated with changes in IMT. Arterial stiffness, on the other hand, increases with aging.