Arterial stiffness and augmentation index are associated with balance function in young adults

Burak T. Cilhoroz, Andrew R. Heckel, Jacob P. DeBlois, Allison Keller, Jacob J. Sosnoff, Kevin S. Heffernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Arterial stiffness and pulsatile central hemodynamics have been shown to affect various aspects of physical function, such as exercise capacity, gait speed, and motor control. The aim of this study was to examine the potential association between arterial stiffness and balance function in healthy younger men and women. Methods: 112 participants (age = 21 ± 4 years, n = 78 women) underwent measures of arterial stiffness, pulsatile central hemodynamics, balance function and physical fitness in this cross-sectional study. Postural sway was measured in triplicate while participants stood on a foam surface with their eyes closed for 20 s. The average total center of pressure path length from the three trials was used for analysis. Measures of vascular function were estimated using an oscillometric blood pressure device while at rest and included pulse wave velocity (PWV), augmentation index (AIx), and pulse pressure amplification. Measures of physical fitness used as covariates in statistical models included handgrip strength determined from a handgrip dynamometer, lower-body flexibility assessed using a sit-and-reach test, estimated maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) using heart rate and a step test, and body fat percentage measured from air displacement plethysmography. Results: The results from linear regression indicated that after considering sex, mean arterial pressure, body fat, estimated VO2max, handgrip strength, and sit-and-reach, PWV (β = 0.44, p < 0.05) and AIx (β = − 0.25, p < 0.01) were significant predictors of postural sway, explaining 10.2% of the variance. Conclusion: Vascular function is associated with balance function in young adults independent of physical fitness. Increased arterial stiffness may negatively influence balance, while wave reflections may be protective for balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-899
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Balance control
  • Blood pressure
  • Hemodynamic
  • Postural sway
  • Vascular stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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