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Pucci, G.; Grillo, A.; Dalakleidi, K.V.; Fraenkel, E.; Gkaliagkousi, E.; Golemati, S.; Guala, A.; Hametner, B.; Lazaridis, A.; Mayer, C.C.; et al. Structural and Functional Arterial Properties. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/55916 (accessed on 16 April 2024).
Pucci G, Grillo A, Dalakleidi KV, Fraenkel E, Gkaliagkousi E, Golemati S, et al. Structural and Functional Arterial Properties. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/55916. Accessed April 16, 2024.
Pucci, Giacomo, Andrea Grillo, Kalliopi V. Dalakleidi, Emil Fraenkel, Eugenia Gkaliagkousi, Spyretta Golemati, Andrea Guala, Bernhard Hametner, Antonios Lazaridis, Christopher C. Mayer, et al. "Structural and Functional Arterial Properties" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/55916 (accessed April 16, 2024).
Pucci, G., Grillo, A., Dalakleidi, K.V., Fraenkel, E., Gkaliagkousi, E., Golemati, S., Guala, A., Hametner, B., Lazaridis, A., Mayer, C.C., Mozos, I., Pereira, T., Veerasingam, D., Terentes-Printzios, D., & Agnoletti, D. (2024, March 06). Structural and Functional Arterial Properties. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/55916
Pucci, Giacomo, et al. "Structural and Functional Arterial Properties." Encyclopedia. Web. 06 March, 2024.
Structural and Functional Arterial Properties
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Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, is associated with adverse cardiovascular (CV) outcomes. Vascular aging (VA), which is defined as the progressive deterioration of arterial function and structure over a lifetime, is an independent predictor of both AF development and CV events. A timing identification and treatment of early VA has therefore the potential to reduce the risk of AF incidence and related CV events. 

vascular aging atrial fibrillation arteriosclerosis cardiovascular disease

1. Introduction

Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, is associated with a high burden of cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality, mainly related to an increased risk of cardioembolic stroke and heart failure [1]. The global cumulative mortality attributed to AF was 0.51% in 2017, reflecting an 81% relative increase over the past two decades [1]. The prevalence of AF is currently increasing and is expected to rise in the coming years across all age groups and regions [2]. This is primarily attributed to the growing burden of comorbidities, socioeconomic deprivation and AF risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes and ischemic heart disease [3].
From a pathophysiological point of view, AF is defined as a supraventricular tachyarrhythmia marked by uncoordinated atrial electrical activation, leading to ineffective atrial contraction and causing an irregular heart rhythm. From a clinical perspective, AF is classified as paroxysmal (PAF, episodes lasting less than one week), persistent (continuously sustained beyond 7 days, including episodes terminated by cardioversion) or permanent (stable AF rhythm with no further attempts to restore/maintain sinus rhythm) [4]; long-standing persistent AF (continuously sustained for an extended period, typically lasting beyond 12 months); valvular/non-valvular AF (valvular AF indicates the presence of moderate/severe mitral stenosis or a mechanical prosthetic heart valve(s)). The classification of lone AF, referring to AF without any other cardiorespiratory diseases or risk factors, is now dismissed.
Notably, asymptomatic AF poses a challenge to clinicians, potentially causing delays in establishing preventive strategies [5]. It is estimated that one out of ten ischemic strokes is related to a previously unknown history of AF [6]. This could be prevented by implementing digital systems and mobile health technologies for AF screening and detection, especially in individuals at risk [7].
The term vascular aging (VA) is commonly used to describe the deterioration of both structural and functional components of the arterial tree, although a universally acknowledged definition is still lacking [8].

2. Structural Arterial Properties: The Arterial Stiffness

At a structural level, the process of VA is identified with the progressive stiffening of the arterial tree, namely arterial stiffness (AS). This process mainly occurs at the level of large elastic arteries such as the aorta and the carotid arteries, where a mechanical remodeling of the arterial wall is observed [9]. The most commonly used method for the non-invasive estimation of arterial stiffness is the measure of the pulse wave velocity (PWV), which represents the velocity of the pressure waves generated from the systolic contraction along a defined arterial segment. Most commonly, the carotid–femoral PWV (cfPWV) is used as a marker of aortic stiffness. CfPWV has been associated with adverse clinical outcomes in several population settings [10], and predicts CV outcome better than chronological aging [11][12]. Several other methods used for arterial stiffness estimation are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. Description of vascular aging biomarkers.

3. Functional Arterial Properties: The Endothelial Dysfunction

At a functional level, the hallmark of VA is the impairment of endothelial function, which is the result of a decrease in nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression in endothelial cells and that, in turn, promotes the development of a prothrombotic state [13] and atherosclerosis [9]. This process, namely the endothelial dysfunction (ED), is hastened by oxidative stress and occurs in response to both physiological aging and systemic inflammation [14][15]. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD), usually assessed at the brachial artery, has been established as a reliable and reproducible technique for assessment of ED [16][17], and has been independently associated with vascular disease and adverse CV events [18].
The exposure to CV risk factors, including smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, promotes the development of both early VA and AF. Therefore, measurement of VA biomarkers such as PWV and brachial FMD in people with AF, or at risk for it, has a strong rationale and large expected impact on clinical practice to better characterize the individual CV risk and to provide targeted interventions.

References

  1. Lippi, G.; Sanchis-Gomar, F.; Cervellin, G. Global epidemiology of atrial fibrillation: An increasing epidemic and public health challenge. Int. J. Stroke 2020, 16, 217–221.
  2. Benjamin, E.J.; Muntner, P.; Alonso, A.; Bittencourt, M.S.; Callaway, C.W.; Carson, A.P.; Chamberlain, A.M.; Chang, A.R.; Cheng, S.; Das, S.R.; et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2019 update: A report from the American heart association. Circulation 2019, 139, e56–e528.
  3. Wu, J.; Nadarajah, R.; Nakao, Y.M.; Nakao, K.; Wilkinson, C.; Mamas, M.A.; Camm, A.J.; Gale, C.P. Temporal trends and patterns in atrial fibrillation incidence: A population-based study of 3·4 million individuals. Lancet Reg. Health Eur. 2022, 17, 100386.
  4. Hindricks, G.; Potpara, T.; Dagres, N.; Arbelo, E.; Bax, J.J.; Blomström-Lundqvist, C.; Boriani, G.; Castella, M.; Dan, J.-A.; Dilaveris, P.E.; et al. The Task Force for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Developed with the special contribution of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) of the ESC. Eur. Heart J. 2021, 42, 373–498.
  5. Martinez, C.; Katholing, A.; Freedman, S.B.; Martinez, C.; Katholing, A.; Freedman, S.B. Adverse prognosis of incidentally detected ambulatory atrial fibrillation. Thromb. Haemost. 2014, 112, 276–286.
  6. Freedman, B.; Potpara, T.S.; Lip, G.Y.H. Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation. Lancet 2016, 388, 806–817.
  7. Freedman, B. Screening for Atrial Fibrillation Using a Smartphone: Is There an App for That? J. Am. Heart Assoc. 2016, 5, e004000.
  8. Climie, R.E.; Alastruey, J.; Mayer, C.C.; Schwarz, A.; Laucyte-Cibulskiene, A.; Voicehovska, J.; Bianchini, E.; Bruno, R.-M.; Charlton, P.H.; Grillo, A.; et al. Vascular ageing: Moving from bench towards bedside. Eur. J. Prev. Cardiol. 2023, 30, 1101–1117.
  9. Gkaliagkousi, E.; Lazaridis, A.; Dogan, S.; Fraenkel, E.; Tuna, B.G.; Mozos, I.; Vukicevic, M.; Yalcin, O.; Gopcevic, K. Theories and Molecular Basis of Vascular Aging: A Review of the Literature from VascAgeNet Group on Pathophysiological Mechanisms of Vascular Aging. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2022, 23, 8672.
  10. Ben-Shlomo, Y.; Spears, M.; Boustred, C.; May, M.; Anderson, S.; Benjamin, E.; Boutouyrie, P.; Cameron, J.; Chen, C.-H.; Cruickshank, J.K.; et al. Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity Improves Cardiovascular Event Prediction. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2014, 63, 636–646.
  11. Bruno, R.M.; Nilsson, P.M.; Engström, G.; Wadström, B.N.; Empana, J.-P.; Boutouyrie, P.; Laurent, S. Early and Supernormal Vascular Aging: Clinical Characteristics and Association with Incident Cardiovascular Events. Hypertension 2020, 76, 1616–1624.
  12. Cao, Q.; Li, M.; Wang, T.; Chen, Y.; Dai, M.; Zhang, D.; Xu, Y.; Xu, M.; Lu, J.; Wang, W.; et al. Association of Early and Supernormal Vascular Aging categories with cardiovascular disease in the Chinese population. Front. Cardiovasc. Med. 2022, 9, 895792.
  13. Lip, G. Does atrial fibrillation confer a hypercoagulable state? Lancet 1995, 346, 1313–1314.
  14. Cai, H.; Li, Z.; Goette, A.; Mera, F.; Honeycutt, C.; Feterik, K.; Wilcox, J.N.; Dudley, S.C.; Harrison, D.G.; Langberg, J.J.; et al. Downregulation of endocardial nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide production in atrial fibrillation: Potential mechanisms for atrial thrombosis and stroke. Circulation 2002, 106, 2854–2858.
  15. Khan, A.A.; Thomas, G.N.; Lip, G.Y.H.; Shantsila, A. Endothelial function in patients with atrial fibrillation. Ann. Med. 2020, 52, 1–11.
  16. Corretti, M.C.; Anderson, T.J.; Benjamin, E.J.; Celermajer, D.; Charbonneau, F.; Creager, M.A.; Deanfield, J.; Drexler, H.; Gerhard-Herman, M.; Herrington, D.; et al. Guidelines for the ultrasound assessment of endothelial-dependent flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery: A report of the International Brachial Artery Reactivity Task Force. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. 2002, 39, 257–265.
  17. Thijssen, D.H.J.; Bruno, R.M.; Van Mil, A.C.C.M.; Holder, S.M.; Faita, F.; Greyling, A.; Zock, P.L.; Taddei, S.; Deanfield, J.E.; Luscher, T.; et al. Expert consensus and evidence-based recommendations for the assessment of flow-mediated dilation in humans. Eur. Heart J. 2019, 40, 2534–2547.
  18. Xu, Y.; Arora, R.C.; Hiebert, B.M.; Lerner, B.; Szwajcer, A.; McDonald, K.; Rigatto, C.; Komenda, P.; Sood, M.M.; Tangri, N. Non-invasive endothelial function testing and the risk of adverse outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur. Heart J. Cardiovasc. Imaging 2014, 15, 736–746.
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