An updated clinical primer on large artery mechanics: Implications of pulse waveform analysis and arterial tonometry

Michael F. O'Rourke*, Audrey Adji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of review: The use of pulse wave analysis with arterial tonometry has accelerated over the last year. Despite approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2001 on the use of generalized transfer function to generate the central (aortic) pressure wave from the radial waveform, this technique is still questioned. This review summarizes major findings on (a) value i of arterial tonometry in determining indices of cardiovascular function, (b) use of these indices in outcome and drug studies, (c) relevance to major trials on blood pressure reduction. Recent findings: Pulse pressure has emerged as a better predictor of cardiac ischemic events than systolic, diastolic, and mean brachial pressure. Central systolic and pulse pressure and augmentation index have shown an even better relation with cardiovascular events and with outcomes. The claim by specific angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and angiotensin receptor blocker drugs of their benefits 'beyond blood pressure lowering' has been challenged on the basis of greater reduction in central and aortic pressure compared with brachial pressure measured by cuff sphygmomanometer, as shown by the pREterax in regression of Arterial Stiffness in a controlled double-bliNd study. Augmentation index is higher in hypertension, is inversely related to body height, and can be reduced by exercise. Augmentation index shows a linear relation with age up to 60 years. Regrettably, recent major trials such as the Comparison of Amlodipine versus Enalapril to Limit Occurrences of Thrombosis, Prevention of Events with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibition, and Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term Use Evaluation studies have not included pulse wave analysis to distinguish the relative benefit of different drugs. Summary: Pulse wave analysis will assist in a better understanding of hypertension as well as in establishing the extent of cardiovascular-disease and for monitoring therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Cardiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial hemodynamics
  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Pulse wave analysis


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