Numerical validation of a new method to assess aortic pulse wave velocity from a single recording of a brachial artery waveform with an occluding cuff.
Recently a new method has been proposed as a tool to measure arterial pulse wave velocity (PWV), a measure of the stiffness of the large arteries and an emerging parameter used as indicator of clinical cardiovascular risk. The method is based on measurement of brachial blood pressure during supra-systolic pressure inflation of a simple brachial cuff [the device is known as the Arteriograph (Tensiomed, Budapest, Hungary)]. This occlusion yields pronounced first and secondary peaks in the pressure waveform, the latter ascribed to a reflection from the aortic bifurcation, and PWV is calculated as the ratio of twice the jugulum-symphysis distance and the time difference between the two peaks. To test the validity of this working principle, we used a numerical model of the arterial tree to simulate pressures and flows in the normal configuration, and in a configuration with an occluded brachial artery. A pronounced secondary peak was indeed found in the brachial pressure signal of the occluded model, but its timing was only related to brachial stiffness and not to aortic stiffness. We also compared PWV's calculated with three different methods: PWVATG (approximately Arteriograph principle), PWVcar-fem (approximately carotid-femoral PWV, the current clinical gold standard method), and PWVtheor (approximately Bramwell-Hill equation). Both PWVATG (R2=0.94) and PWVcar-fem (R2=0.95) correlated well with PWVtheor, but their numerical values were lower (by 2.17+/-0.42 and 1.08+/-0.70 m/s for PWVATG and PWVcar-fem, respectively). In conclusion, our simulations question the working principle of the Arteriograph. Our data indicate that the method picks up wave reflection phenomena confined to the brachial artery, and derived values of PWV rather reflect the stiffness of the brachial arteries.