Racial differences in central blood pressure and vascular function in young men

Kevin S. Heffernan, Young Jae Sae, Kenneth R. Wilund, Jeffrey A. Woods, Bo Fernhall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Young African-American men have altered macrovascular and microvascular function. In this cross-sectional study, we tested the hypothesis that vascular dysfunction in young African-American men would contribute to greater central blood pressure (BP) compared with young white men. Fifty-five young (23 yr), healthy men (25 African-American and 30 white) underwent measures of vascular structure and function, including carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and carotid artery β-stiffness via ultrasonography, aortic pulse wave velocity, aortic augmentation index (AIx), and wave reflection travel time (Tr) via radial artery tonometery and a generalized transfer function, and microvascular vasodilatory capacity of forearm resistance arteries with strain-gauge plethysmography. African-American men had similar brachial systolic BP (SBP) but greater aortic SBP (P < 0.05) and carotid SBP (P < 0.05). African-American men also had greater carotid IMT, greater carotid β-stiffness, greater aortic stiffness and AIx, reduced aortic Tr and reduced peak hyperemic, and total hyperemic forearm blood flow compared with white men (P < 0.05). In conclusion, young African-American men have greater central BP, despite comparable brachial BP, compared with young white men. Diffuse macrovascular and microvascular dysfunction manifesting as carotid hypertrophy, increased stiffness of central elastic arteries, heightened resistance artery constriction/blunted resistance artery dilation, and greater arterial wave reflection are present at a young age in apparently healthy African-American men, and conventional brachial BP measurement does not reflect this vascular burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2380-H2387
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Augmentation index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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