Physical inactivity contributes to atherosclerotic processes, which manifest as increased arterial stiffness. Arterial stiffness is associated with myocardial demand and coronary perfusion and is a risk factor for stroke and other adverse cardiac outcomes. Poststroke mobility limitations often lead to physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors. This exploratory study aimed to identify functional correlates, reflective of daily physical activity levels, with arterial stiffness in community-dwelling individuals >1 year poststroke.
Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) was measured in 35 participants (65% men; mean ± SD age 66.9 ± 6.9 years; median time poststroke 3.7 years). Multivariable regression analyses examined the relationships between cfPWV and factors associated with daily physical activity: aerobic capacity (VO2 peak), gait speed, and balance ability (Berg Balance Scale). Age and the use of antihypertensive medications, known to be associated with pulse wave velocity, were also included in the model.
Mean cfPWV was 11.2 ± 2.4 m/s. VO2 peak and age were correlated with cfPWV (r = -0.45 [P = .006] and r = 0.46 [P = .004], respectively). In the multivariable regression analyses, age and the use of antihypertensive medication accounted for 20.4% of the variance of cfPWV, and the addition of VO2 peak explained an additional 4.5% of the variance (R2 = 0.249).
We found that arterial stiffness is elevated in community-dwelling, ambulatory individuals with stroke relative to healthy people. Multivariable regression analysis suggests that aerobic capacity (VO2 peak) may contribute to the variance of cfPWV after accounting for the effects of age and medication use. Whether intense risk modification and augmented physical activity will improve arterial stiffness in this population remains to be determined.
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