Prevalence, Correlates, and Prognosis of Healthy Vascular Aging in a Western Community-Dwelling CohortNovelty and Significance
The Framingham Heart Study
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Hypertension and increased vascular stiffness are viewed as inevitable parts of aging. To elucidate whether the age-related decrease in vascular function is avoidable, we assessed the prevalence, correlates, and prognosis of healthy vascular aging (HVA) in 3196 Framingham Study participants aged ≥50 years. We defined HVA as absence of hypertension and pulse wave velocity <7.6 m/s (mean+2 SD of a reference sample aged <30 years). Overall, 566 (17.7%) individuals had HVA, with prevalence decreasing from 30.3% in people aged 50 to 59 to 1% in those aged ≥70 years. In regression models adjusted for physical activity, caloric intake, and traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, we observed that lower age, female sex, lower body mass index, use of lipid-lowering drugs, and absence of diabetes mellitus were cross-sectionally associated with HVA (P<0.001 for all). A unit increase in a cardiovascular health score (Life’s Simple 7) was associated with 1.55-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.38–1.74) age- and sex-adjusted odds of HVA. During a follow-up of 9.6 years, 391 CVD events occurred. In Cox regression models adjusted for traditional CVD risk factors, including blood pressure, HVA was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.45 (95% confidence interval, 0.26–0.77) for CVD relative to absence of HVA. Although HVA is achievable in individuals acculturated to a Western lifestyle, maintaining normal vascular function beyond 70 years of age is challenging. Although our data are observational, our findings support prevention strategies targeting modifiable factors and behaviors and obesity, in particular, to prevent or delay vascular aging and the associated risk of CVD.
- Received January 3, 2017.
- Revision received January 17, 2017.
- Accepted April 2, 2017.
- © 2017 American Heart Association, Inc.