Papers on High Blood Pressure
Arterial Stiffness and Hypertension
Donna K. Arnett, PhD
Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, USA
OVERVIEW OF THE ROLE OF ARTERIAL STIFFNESS IN HYPERTENSION
Historically, arteries were considered to be passive conduits of blood; today, they are viewed as complex, active participants in cardiovascular function, including abnormalities in blood pressure. Stiffening of large arteries may be both a cause and a consequence of hypertension. There are several studies, including studies done by the University of Minnesota, that confirm that as arterial pressure rises, acute and reversible stiffening of the large arteries occurs without a change in the structure of the artery. Arterial stiffness increases transiently as blood pressure rises. Arterial stiffening also increases because of the structure of the artery changes. Persistently elevated blood pressure accelerates atherosclerosis, arterial smooth muscle hyperplasia and hypertrophy, and collagen synthesis, thereby increasing arterial stiffness.