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Stiffness of the large arteries in individuals with and without Down syndrome

Authors Rodrigues AN, Coelho LC, Goncalves WLS, Gouvea SA, Vasconcellos MJR, Cunha RS, Abreu GR

Published 9 June 2011 Volume 2011:7 Pages 375—381


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Anabel N Rodrigues1,2, Luan Cesar Coelho1, Washington LS Goncalves1,2, Sonia Alves Gouvea2, Maria José Rossi Vasconcellos1, Roberto S Cunha2, Glaucia R Abreu2
1School of Medicine, University Center of Espírito Santo, Colatina; 2Postgraduate Program in Physiological Sciences, Center for Health Sciences, Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitória, Brazil
Background: Down syndrome is known to cause premature aging in several organ systems. However, it remains unclear whether this aging effect also affects the structure and function of the large arterial trunks. In this controlled study, the possibility of changes in the large arteries due to aging was evaluated in patients with Down syndrome.
Methods: Eighty-two subjects of both genders were selected. The Down syndrome group had 41 active subjects consisting of 19 males and 22 females (mean age 21 ± 1, range 13–42 years) without cardiovascular complications and who did not use vasoactive drugs. The control group consisted of 41 healthy individuals without trisomy 21 of the same gender and age as the Down syndrome group and who did not use vasoactive medication. Carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity was obtained as an index of aortic stiffness using an automatic noninvasive method.
Results: Individuals with Down syndrome had significantly lower blood pressure than those in the control group. Systolic blood pressure for the Down syndrome group and control group was 106 ± 2 mmHg vs 117 ± 2 mmHg (P < 0.001), respectively; diastolic blood pressure was 66 ± 2 mmHg vs 77 ± 2 mmHg (P <0.001); and mean arterial pressure was 80 ± 1 mmHg vs 90 ± 1 mmHg (P < 0.001). Only age and systolic blood pressure were shown to correlate significantly with pulse wave velocity, but the slopes of the linear regression curves of these two variables showed no significant difference between the two study groups. Pulse wave velocity, which was initially significantly lower in the Down syndrome group (7.51 ± 0.14 m/s vs 7.84 ± 0.12 m/s; P < 0.05), was similar between the groups after systolic blood pressure adjustment (7.62 ± 0.13 m/s vs 7.73 ± 0.13 m/s).
Conclusion: Despite evidence in the literature that patients with Down syndrome undergo early aging, this process does not seem to affect the large arterial trunks, given that values of carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity were similar in individuals with or without trisomy 21. Considering that Down syndrome presents with chronic hypotension, it is reasonable to propose that the prolonged reduction of arterial distending pressure may contribute to functional preservation of the arteries in patients with Down syndrome.

Keywords: aging, Down syndrome, pulse wave velocity, arterial stiffness

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