Ethnicity and arterial stiffness
Schutte, Aletta E.
Gafane-Matemane, Lebo F.
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Early vascular aging reflects increased arterial stiffness of central blood vessels at young chronological ages and powerfully predicts cardiovascular events and mortality, independent of routine brachial blood pressure and other risk factors. Since ethnic disparities exist in routine blood pressure, in hypertension and cardiovascular outcomes, this review evaluates major studies comparing arterial stiffness through the life course between different ethnic groups or races (which have no biological definition)—in children, adolescents, young, and middle-aged adults and the very elderly. Most report that compared with white European-origin samples, populations of black African descent have increased central arterial stiffness throughout different life stages, as well as a more rapid increase in arterial stiffness at young ages. Exceptions may include African Caribbean origin people in Europe. Differences in vascular structure and function are clearest, where obesity, socioeconomic, and psychosocial factors are most marked. Few studies evaluate a wider spectrum of ethnic groups or factors contributing to these ethnic disparities. Genetic effects are not obvious; maternal risk and intergenerational studies are scarce. Nevertheless, across all ethnic groups, for given levels of blood pressure and age, some people have stiffer central arteries than others. These individuals are most at risk of vascular events and mortality and, therefore, may benefit from early, as yet untested, preventive action and treatment
- Faculty of Health Sciences