Association of the amount and pattern of physical activity with arterial stiffness: The Maastricht Study

1. Higher amounts of weekly physical exercise were associated with better carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocities but not with carotid distensibility, which are both markers of arterial stiffness.

2. Diabetic patients may benefit from a more profound correlation between physical exercise with carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocity.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Arterial stiffness is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which can be altered by physical activity. This cross-sectional study (n= 1699) used data from the Maastricht Study to assess arterial stiffness by carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) and carotid distensibility. Subjects were followed for a week and divided into inactive (75 min/week), insufficienctly active (75-150 min/week), regularly active (>150 min/week) and weekend warrior (>150 min/week but in ≤2 sessions) groups. Subjects were followed for 1 week to determine activity levels. Increasing amounts of physical activity per week were associated with lower cfPWV scores (lower arterial stiffness), with increasing activity correlating with better results between the exercise groups. This association showed as a more prominent trend in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 . However, the other marker for arterial stiffness, carotid distensibility, was not associated with higher amounts of physical exercise and none of the exercise groups had a significantly different result compared to the inactive group (reference). Future studies should be done longitudinally to see bigger impacts of exercise on arterial stiffness. This study suggests that exercise, especially in diabetic patients, may beneficially improve arterial stiffness, a known cardiovascular disease risk factor.

Click to read the study in JAHA

Image: PD

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