OBJECTIVE: Arterial stiffness, cerebral pulsatility, and beat-to-beat blood pressure variability partly mediate the relationship between hypertension and stroke, but it is unknown if these intermediate phenotypes of vascular ageing differ between stroke aetiologies. We therefore aimed to characterize differences in these intermediate cardiovascular phenotypes between patients presenting with strokes of different aetiologies. METHODS: In consecutive patients on best medical management 1 month after TIA or nondisabling stroke (Oxford Vascular Study), arterial stiffness (PWV) was measured by applanation tonometry (Sphygmocor), middle cerebral blood flow velocity, and pulsatility index (MCA-PI) were measured by transcranial ultrasound (TCD, DWL Doppler Box), and beat-to-beat BP variability was measured with a Finometer. Differences between patients with large artery (LAS), small vessel (SVD), cardioembolic (CE), or undetermined events were derived, including adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. Relationships were characterized by mixed linear models. RESULTS: In 909 eligible patients, MCA-PI, PWV, and SBPV were all positively skewed. Mean values were greatest in LAS than CE and lowest in SVD (p < 0.001). However, after adjustment for age, sex, and risk factors, PI was greatest in LAS and lowest in CE stroke, whilst PWV was greatest in SVD and undetermined stroke (p < 0.001). In multivariate linear models, age was more strongly associated with PWV and PI in patients with small vessel stroke than other aetiologies, particularly under the age of 65, but SBPV was only weakly associated with demographic indices in all stroke subtypes. CONCLUSIONS: Intermediate cardiovascular phenotypes of vascular ageing had similar demographic associations between stroke aetiologies, but these were particularly strong in patients with small vessel stroke under the age of 65, implying a potential role of these phenotypes in increasing stroke risk in this patient group.
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Arterial stiffness, Blood pressure variability, Hypertension, Stroke