Age-dependent arterial stiffening differs in sexes: Women highly at risk after menopause

New publication of VASCage researchers and VASCage partners in the high-ranking Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that the ageing of arteries progresses differently in Chinese men and women over lifetime. The findings are highly relevant for drug targeting. The publication is the result of the very fruitful cooperation between VASCage, Medical University Innsbruck, King’s College London, Zhejiang University and the Third Xiangya Hospital of Changsha, the largest medical institution in central China.

‘Trajectories of Age-Related Arterial Stiffness in Chinese Men and Women‘

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)  is the number 1 cause of death worldwide. Arterial stiffening is central in the vasclar ageing process underlying CVD. The study is the first to present lifetime trajectories of arterial stiffening from adolescents to the elderly in very large Chinese populations of 80,415 healthy individuals with a particular focus on age-sex interactions. China is facing a particularly high burden of cardiovascular diesease compared to other regions worldwide.

For quantification of arterial stiffness brachial ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) was measured. It represents the speed of the pressure wave propagating along the artery and is directly correlated to the rigidity of the vessel with a higher velocity indicating stiffer vessels.

As a key finding vessels were stiffer in men from early adulthood onward. Women, in contrast, had more dispensible vessels than men until after menopause, whereas elderly women exhibited stiffer vessels than men had.  This result provides an important clue of explanation for the heightened cardiovascular disease risk in postmenopausal women. A potential reason is the higher susceptibility for vascular risk factors such as hypertension  in women.

`We are very excited about this study because the detailed knowledge on lifetime trajectories of arterial stiffening and its potential risk factors is a prerequisite for the development of new prevention strategies and therapies counteracting vascular ageing. These are major goals of VASCage, so we feel very encouraged to proceed together with our partners in China´, says corresponding author Prof. Stefan Kiechl, who is Chief Scientific Officer of VASCage and Head of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of Innsbruck.


Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Volume 75, Issue 8, March 2020

DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.12.039