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Open Access Research article

Associations among different functional and structural arterial wall properties and their relations to traditional cardiovascular risk factors in healthy subjects: a cross-sectional study

Mojca Lunder12*, Miodrag Janic1, Natasa Kejzar3 and Miso Sabovic1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Vascular Disease, University of Ljubljana Medical Centre, Zaloška 7, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2 Institute of Pharmacology and Experimental Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Korytkova 2, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia

3 Institute for Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Vrazov trg 2, 1000, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2012, 12:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-29

Published: 25 April 2012



The arterial wall possesses several functional and structural properties that define arterial health. Once they become impaired, cardiovascular risk increases. We aimed to ascertain the pattern of correlations among different arterial wall properties and to explore their relations to traditional risk factors and cardiovascular risk stratification. To allow such an investigation a middle-aged healthy population was recruited.


This cross-sectional study included 100 healthy males (aged 41.9 ± 6.4 years). Pulse wave velocity (PWV), β-stiffness and intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery, and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) were measured by a standardized ultrasound approach.


No correlation between FMD and IMT was found; only relatively poor correlations between PWV (or β-stiffness) and FMD existed, as well as between PWV (or β-stiffness) and IMT. PWV and β-stiffness highly correlated. Unexpectedly, only weak associations between PWV, β-stiffness, FMD, IMT and traditional risk factors were revealed. Hence, traditional risk factors (mainly age) explained only 10-50% of variability for PWV, β-stiffness, FMD and IMT. Although the subjects had low cardiovascular risk according to their Framingham score, their arterial wall properties were already impaired, particularly FMD.


In healthy middle-age males we found: i) absent or poor correlations among arterial stiffness, IMT and endothelial function; ii) a low impact of traditional risk factors on the studied variables, and iii) the presence of impaired arterial wall properties despite low calculated cardiovascular risk. These results provide a deepened understanding of arterial wall properties and could help to improve cardiovascular risk stratification.