Influences on the Functional Behavior of Great Arteries during Orthostasis

Abstract Background: Arterial compliance reduction has been associated with aging and hypertension in supine position. However, the dynamic effects of orthostatism on aortic distensibility has not been defined. Objective: We sought to determine the orthostatic influence and the interference of age, blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) on the great arteries during gravitational stress. Methods: Ninety-three healthy volunteers (age 42 ± 16 years). Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) assumed as aortic stiffness was assessed in supine position (basal phase), during tilt test (TT) (orthostatic phase) and after return to supine position (recovery phase). Simultaneously with PWV acquisition, measures of BP and HR rate were recorded. Results: PWV during TT increased significantly compared to the basal and recovery phases (11.7 ± 2.5 m/s vs. 10.1 ± 2.3 m/s and 9.5 ± 2.0 m/s). Systolic BP (r = 0.55, r = 0.46 and r = 0.39) and age (r = 0.59, r = 0.63 and r = 0.39) correlated with PWV in all phases. The significance level for all tests was established as α = 0.05. Conclusion: We conclude that there is a permanent increase in PWV during orthostatic position that was returned to basal level at the recovery phase. This dynamic pattern of PWV response, during postural changes, can be explained by an increase in hydrostatic pressure at the level of abdominal aorta which with smaller radius and an increased elastic modulus, propagates the pulse in a faster way. Considering that it could increase central pulse reflection during the orthostatic position, we speculate that this mechanism may play a role in the overall adaptation of humans to gravitational stress.