Healthy aging and carotid performance: strain measures and β-stiffness index.Hypertens Res. 2018 Sep; 41(9):748-755.HR
Arterial stiffness is related to the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and increases with aging. Functional impairment of the arterial wall can occur before structural changes and can be detectable before CVD symptoms. The elastic properties of the carotid arterial wall during the cardiac cycle can be evaluated by standard 2-dimensional (2D) ultrasound longitudinal or circumferential imaging of vascular deformation (strain) using speckle tracking. The purpose of this study was to compare standard 2D ultrasound circumferential and longitudinal images of vascular tissue motion and strain using speckle tracking in young and older individuals. Participants underwent recording of 2D ultrasound circumferential and longitudinal images of the common carotid artery. Circumferential carotid strain (CS) and CS rate were obtained and analyzed via speckle tracking software. Following the strain analysis, the circumferential strain β-stiffness (C-β) was calculated. Conventional longitudinal β-stiffness (L-β) was calculated and non-invasive blood pressure measurements were obtained from carotid artery pressure measurements in a resting supine position using applanation tonometry. C-β was significantly higher than L-β, and the association with age was greater (r = .824 vs. r = .547). CS and CS rate were significantly higher in the young compared to the older group. L-β does not explain as much of the age-dependent differences in the carotid artery compared with C-β. This is possibly due to the inclusion of whole arterial wall motion and deformation observed in the CS image. The ability of C-β to accurately predict the future risk of CVD independent of age still needs further investigation.