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The impact of age on endothelial dysfunction measured by peripheral arterial tonometry in a healthy

population-based cohort - the Malmö offspring study

Blood Press. 2023 Dec;32(1):2234059.


Background/aims: The reactive hyperaemia index (RHI) assesses endothelial function, with a proposed cut-off of <1.67 for prevalent endothelial dysfunction (ED). However, uncertainties remain about whether this cut-off is age-dependent and applicable in healthy individuals. We aimed to explore ED in relation to age within a large population-based cohort of young to middle-aged, healthy individuals.

Methods: Within the Malmö Offspring Study, a total of 1812 subjects (50.9% women, mean age 48 ± 11 years) were included. Post-occlusion/pre-occlusion ratio of the pulsatile signal amplitudes in the non-dominant upper arm was used to calculate RHI by EndoPat®. ED was defined as RHI < 1.67. Multivariable regression models were used to explore associations between ED and age.

Results: Prevalent ED was found in 534 (29.5%) participants. In subjects aged ≤30 years, ED was present in 47.4% compared to 27.6% in subjects ≥30 years (p < 0.001). In multivariable logistic regression analyses, ED was associated with younger age (p < 0.001),

higher BMI (p < 0.001) and current smoking (p < 0.001). No sex differences were observed.

Conclusion: In a large healthy population, RHI < 1.67, an early marker of endothelial

dysfunction, was more prevalent in younger individuals, implying that RHI might not be a suitable measure of endothelial function in individuals under 30 years of age. Our findings suggest that low RHI in young, healthy individuals may not necessarily indicate true ED but rather an artefact of the limited ability of young and healthy arteries to dilate post-occlusion. Therefore, the term "pseudo-ED" may be applicable to young individuals with low RHI values.

Keywords: Endothelial dysfunction; healthy; reactive hyperaemia index; young.


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