Manipulation of arterial stiffness, wave reflections, and retrograde shear rate in the femoral artery using lower limb external compression

Kevin S. Heffernan, Wesley K. Lefferts, Ari G. Kasprowicz, Brendan J. Tarzia, Dick H. Thijssen, Tom D. Brutsaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Exposure of the arterial wall to retrograde shear acutely leads to endothelial dysfunction and chronically contributes to a proatherogenic vascular phenotype. Arterial stiffness and increased pressure from wave reflections are known arbiters of blood flow in the systemic circulation and each related to atherosclerosis. Using distal external compression of the calf to increase upstream retrograde shear in the superficial femoral artery (SFA), we examined the hypothesis that changes in retrograde shear are correlated with changes in SFA stiffness and pressure from wave reflections. For this purpose, a pneumatic cuff was applied to the calf and inflated to 0, 35, and 70 mmHg (5 min compression, randomized order, separated by 5 min) in 16 healthy young men (23 ± 1 years of age). Doppler ultrasound and wave intensity analysis was used to measure SFA retrograde shear rate, reflected pressure wave intensity (negative area [NA]), elastic modulus (Ep), and a single-point pulse wave velocity (PWV) during acute cuff inflation. Cuff inflation resulted in stepwise increases in retrograde shear rate (P < 0.05 for main effect). There were also significant cuff pressure-dependent increases in NA, Ep, and PWV across conditions (P < 0.05 for main effects). Change in NA, but not Ep or PWV, was associated with change in retrograde shear rate across conditions (P < 0.05). In conclusion, external compression of the calf increases retrograde shear, arterial stiffness, and pressure from wave reflection in the upstream SFA in a dose-dependent manner. Wave reflection intensity, but not arterial stiffness, is correlated with changes in peripheral retrograde shear with this hemodynamic manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00022
JournalPhysiological reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Hemodynamics
  • Intimamedia thickness
  • Wave reflections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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