(HealthDay News) – Aortic arch pulse wave velocity (PWV), a measure of arterial stiffness, is a strong, independent predictor of future cerebrovascular disease, according to a study published in the June issue of Radiology.

Kevin S. King, MD, from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues measured aortic arch PWV with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 1,270 participants of the Dallas Heart Study. Brain MRI was used to assess the volume of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) seven years later.

The researchers found that aortic arch PWV significantly helped predict WMH volume independent of the other demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. Adjusting for sex and ethnicity, the optimal predictor variables of subsequent WMH volume included aortic arch PWV, age, systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, and congestive heart failure. When all other model variables were constant, for each 1% increase in aortic arch PWV (in meters per second) there was a 0.3% increase in subsequent WMH volume (in milliliters).

“Aortic arch PWV measured with phase-contrast MRI is a highly significant independent predictor of subsequent WMH volume, with a higher standardized effect than any other cardiovascular risk factor assessed except for age,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to Philips Medical Systems.

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