Arterial compliance was measured in 70 healthy volunteers, 13 athletes, and 17 patients with coronary artery disease. Magnetic resonance images were acquired at end diastole and end systole through the ascending aorta, the aortic arch, and the descending thoracic aorta. Regional compliance was derived from the change in luminal area in a slice of known thickness and from the pulse pressure. Total arterial compliance was also measured from the left ventricular stroke volume and the pulse pressure. In the volunteers, mean (SD) regional compliance (microliters/mm Hg) was greatest in the ascending aorta (37 (18], lower in the arch (31 (15], and lowest in the descending aorta (18 (8], and it decreased with age. Compliance in the athletes was significantly higher than in their age matched controls (41 (16) versus 22 (11) microliters/mm Hg). In the patients with coronary artery disease it was significantly lower (12 (4) v 18 (10] than in age matched controls. Total arterial compliance also fell with age in those with coronary artery disease although there was more variation. The results suggest a possible role for compliance in the assessment of cardiovascular fitness and the detection of coronary artery disease.
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