Hypercholesterolemia impairs arteriolar dilatation, but whether the vascular abnormalities accompanying this condition include large artery function is unknown. We addressed this issue in 13 normotensive subjects with familial hypercholesterolemia (serum cholesterol 401.6 ± 16.9 mg/dl, mean ± S.E., FHC) and no evidence of atherosclerotic lesions, in whom radial artery (RA) diameter and blood pressure (BP) were measured beat to beat by an echotracking and a Finapres device, respectively. RA compliance (RAG) was derived from the diameter/BP relationship and expressed over the systo-diastolic BP range, both at baseline and after a 12-min brachial artery occlusion. RAC was expressed also as the area under the RAC/BP curve divided for pulse BP. Measurements included maximal forearm blood flow (plethysmography) and minimal forearm vascular resistance (FVR) which were obtained from the values following the 12-min brachial arterial occlusion. Data were collected before and after 6- and 24-month lipid lowering treatment (simvastatin 40 mg/day). Ten age-matched normotensive normocholesterolemic healthy subjects (N) served as controls. Compared to N, baseline RAC was strikingly reduced in FHC (-53.5%, P < 0.01). After ischemia RAC increased significantly and markedly in N (+38.7, P < 0.01), while only a modest and non-significant increase was observed in FHC. Minimal FVR was markedly higher in FHC than in N (3.5 ± 0.9 vs 1.6 ± 0.1 units, P < 0.01). In FHC (7 subjects) RAC remained unchanged after 6 months of lipid lowering treatment, but increased markedly (+55.2%, P < 0.05) when treatment was prolonged to 24 months. Lipid lowering treatment also reduced minimal FVR, the effect being significant bath after 6 and after 24 months. No changes in RAC and minimal FVR were seen after 6 months in controls. Thus, in subjects with a marked increase in serum cholesterol due to FHC, not only arteriolar dilatation, but also RAC and distensibility are markedly impaired. This impairment can be favourably affected by an effective lipid lowering treatment of long duration.
- Arterial compliance
- Familial hypercholesterolemia
- Lipid profile
- Peripheral circulation