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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 1/2019

Body composition is a strong predictor of local carotid stiffness in Swedish, young adults – the cross sectional Lifestyle, biomarkers, and atherosclerosis study

BMC Cardiovascular Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2019
Ulrika Fernberg, Jos op ‘t Roodt, Maria Fernström, Anita Hurtig-Wennlöf
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Obesity has nearly tripled worldwide during the last four decades, especially in young adults, and is of growing concern since it is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). We explored how different body composition measurements are associated with intima media thickness (cIMT) and local stiffness in the common carotid artery, in a subsample of healthy, young women and men, from the Swedish Lifestyle, Biomarkers, and Atherosclerosis (LBA) Study.


From the LBA study, a subsample of 220 randomly selected, self-reported healthy individuals, 18–25 years old, were collected for the automatized local stiffness measurements; arterial distensibility, Young’s elastic modulus, and β stiffness index. Blood pressure and mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured using automatic blood pressure equipment. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated, waist circumference was measured, and percentage of body fat assessed using an impedance body composition analyzer. The carotid artery was scanned by ultrasound and analyzed using B-mode edge wall tracking. cIMT was measured and local stiffness measurements were calculated with carotid blood pressure, measured with applanation tonometry.


No association was found between cIMT and body composition. Local carotid stiffness was associated with body composition, and women had less stiff arteries than men (p < 0.001). Of the local stiffness measurements, arterial distensibility had the strongest associations with body composition measurements in both women and men (p < 0.05). Multiple regression analyses showed that BMI in women and BMI and percentage of body fat in men had the highest impact on arterial distensibility (p < 0.01 in both women and men).


Arterial distensibility was the local stiffness measurement with the strongest associations to different body composition measurements, in both women and men. In this age group, body composition measurements seem to be stronger predictors of common carotid arterial stiffness than MAP, and is a convenient way of detecting young adults who need cardiovascular risk follow-up and lifestyle counseling.
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