Knowledge of the mechanical properties of the small arteries is important for understanding physiological and pathophysiological conditions in the human peripheral circulation. We have recently developed a new method for the noninvasive measurement of arterial elastic properties in human fingers using photoelectric plethysmography. In this study, the pressure-volume relationship, an index for expressing arterial elasticity, was measured by this method in the finger arteries of 91 healthy subjects and 102 patients with coronary artery disease. Aging effects on the elastic properties of finger arteries were examined in healthy subjects classified into three groups: under 30, 31–49, and over 50 years of age. The pressure-volume curve shifted downward with increase in age, indicating that the elasticity of finger arteries decreased with age. Patients with 75% or greater coronary stenosis, as compared with age-matched healthy subjects, showed distinctly lower elasticity of finger arteries. As the number of diseased coronary arteries increased, the elasticity of finger arteries tended to decrease steadily. The elasticity of finger arteries decreased in coronary disease patients with hypertension much more than in those without hypertension. These results suggest that age-related changes in arterial elasticity can occur in peripheral small arteries, and that peripheral arteries in patients with coronary atherosclerosis are less elastic than those in healthy subjects.
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