What & Why: Pulse Wave Velocity

What is Pulse Wave Velocity and Why Measure It?
Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a measure of arterial stiffness, based on the rate at which pressure waves move down the vessels of the circulatory system. Pulse wave velocity (PWV), specifically cfPWV (carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, also known as aortic PWV), is now considered the “gold standard” for measuring arterial stiffness. The leading cause of death in the United States is cardiovascular disease. PWV is a valuable biomarker that can be measured non-invasively and accurately to improve risk prediction of cardiovascular events and mortality.

Many published articles support the facts stated above. Laurent, Cockcroft, Van, et al in the European Heart Journal in 2006 said, “Carotid-femoral PWV is the ‘gold standard’ for arterial stiffness, has the largest amount of epidemiological evidence for its predictive value for CV events, and requires little technical expertise.”

“Aortic stiffness can be assessed in a number of ways, but [PWV] is regarded as the current gold standard and has the most evidence available linking it to cardiovascular risk. The goal of this study was to determine whether aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) improves prediction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events beyond conventional risk factors. The main finding of the current study is that aortic stiffness, assessed by measurement of aPWV, can predict future cardiovascular events and mortality, even after accounting for other established cardiovascular risk factors.”

Ben-Shlomo Y, Spears M, Boustred C et al. Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity Improves Cardiovascular Event Prediction. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014;63(7):636-646.

Why is a better device needed?

Current devices measure PWV using unreliable and difficult-to-use tonometry pressure measurements or expensive imaging (MRI) techniques. Cre8MDI’s approach is much different using a non-invasive, quick, easy, and low-cost way to assess PWV.  Through the use of bio-impedance technology we are able to obtain a more precise distance measurement than the previous mentioned devices.

Pulse Wave Velocity (cfPWV) is the “favored measure of aortic stiffness.” “However, there is no consensus on the measurement of distance traveled by the pulse wave along the aorta to the femoral artery.” After comparing cfPWV values measured invasively and non-invasively, findings supported that “ for noninvasive assessment of PWV, estimation of pulse wave travel distance is critical.”

Weber T, Ammer M, Rammer M et al. Noninvasive determination of carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity depends critically on assessment of travel distance: a comparison with invasive measurement. Journal of Hypertension. 2009;27(8):1624-1630.


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