Hemodynamic correlates of blood pressure across the adult age spectrum: Noninvasive evaluation in the framingham heart study

Gary F. Mitchell, Na Wang, Joseph N. Palmisano, Martin G. Larson, Naomi M. Hamburg, Joseph A. Vita, Daniel Levy, Emelia J. Benjamin, Ramachandran S. Vasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

273 Scopus citations


Background: Systolic blood pressure and pulse pressure are substantially higher in older adults. The relative contributions of increased forward versus reflected pressure wave amplitude or earlier arrival of the reflected wave to elevated pulse pressure remain controversial. Methods and Results: We measured proximal aortic pressure and flow, forward pressure wave amplitude, global wave reflection, reflected wave timing, and pulse wave velocity noninvasively in 6417 (age range, 19 to 90 years; 53% women) Framingham Heart Study Third Generation and Offspring participants. Variation in forward wave amplitude paralleled pulse pressure throughout adulthood. In contrast, wave reflection and pulse pressure were divergent across adulthood: In younger participants, pulse pressure was lower and wave reflection was higher with advancing age, whereas in older participants, pulse pressure was higher and wave reflection was lower with age. Reflected wave timing differed modestly across age groups despite considerable differences in pulse wave velocity. Forward wave amplitude explained 80% (central) and 66% (peripheral) of the variance in pulse pressure in younger participants (<50 years) and 90% and 84% in the older participants (≤50 years; all P<0.0001). In a stepwise model that evaluated age-pulse pressure relations in the full sample, the late accelerated increases in central and peripheral pulse pressure were markedly attenuated when variation in forward wave amplitude was considered. Conclusions: Higher pulse pressure at any age and higher pulse pressure with advancing age is associated predominantly with a larger forward pressure wave. The influence of wave reflection on age-related differences in pulse pressure was minor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1379-1386
Number of pages8
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 5 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • aorta
  • blood pressure
  • epidemiology
  • hemodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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