Acute effect of high-intensity cycling exercise on carotid artery hemodynamic pulsatility

Matthew C. Babcock, Wesley K. Lefferts, William E. Hughes, Kimberly L. Fitzgerald, Briana K. Leyer, Jessica G. Redmond, Kevin S. Heffernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Investigate the effects of acute high-intensity exercise on common carotid artery (CCA) dimensions, stiffness, and wave intensity.

Methods: Fifty-five healthy men and women (22 ± 5 year; 24.5 ± 2.7 kg m<sup>−2</sup>) underwent 30 s of high-intensity cycling (HIC; Wingate anaerobic test). CCA diameter, stiffness [β-stiffness, Elastic Modulus (E<sub>p</sub>)], pulsatility index (PI), forward wave intensities [due to LV contraction (W<sub>1</sub>) and LV suction (W<sub>2</sub>)], and reflected wave intensity [negative area (NA)] were assessed using a combination of Doppler ultrasound, wave intensity analysis, and applanation tonometry at baseline and immediately post-HIC.

Results: CCA β-stiffness, E<sub>p</sub>, PI and pulse pressure increased significantly immediately post-HIC (p < 0.05). CCA diameter decreased acutely post-HIC (p < 0.05). There were also significant increases in W<sub>1</sub> and NA and a significant decrease in W<sub>2</sub> (p < 0.05). A significant correlation was found between change in W<sub>1</sub> and PI (r = 0.438, p < 0.05), from rest to recovery as well as a significant inverse correlation between W<sub>2</sub> and PI (r = −0.378, p < 0.05). Change in PI was not associated with change in CCA stiffness or NA (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: Acute HIC results in CCA constriction and increases in CCA stiffness along with increases in hemodynamic pulsatility. The increase in pulsatility may be due to a combination of increased forward wave intensity from increased LV contractility into a smaller vessel (i.e. impaired matching of diameter and flow) coupled with reduced LV suction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1045
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Exercise
  • Hemodynamic pulsatility
  • Wave intensity analysis
  • Wave reflection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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