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Keywords:

  • ageing;
  • arterial stiffness;
  • carotid artery;
  • femoral artery;
  • gait speed;
  • walk distance

Summary

Arterial stiffening is a widely known physiological change that occurs with ageing, but the functional consequences of vascular ageing are unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine whether carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV), mechanical properties of the carotid and femoral arteries and/or peripheral perfusion was associated with gait performance measured using a 400-m walk test. Twenty-one healthy older (68 ± 5 years) adults without cardiovascular disease participated in this study. Applanation tonometry was used to measure PWV, and Doppler ultrasound was used to measure arterial wall properties of the left common carotid and common femoral artery along with femoral blood flow. The median walk distance in the first 2 min of the test was 585 ft, and the overall gait speed was 1·5 m s−1. Gait performance was inversely correlated with PWV (distance: r = -0·51; speed: r = −0·48; P<0·05) and carotid artery stiffness index β (distance: r = −0·56; speed: r = 0·51; P<0·05) after adjustment for age, body mass index, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure. No significant correlations were found between gait performance and femoral artery stiffness index β or femoral artery blood flow. These results found higher central arterial stiffness, as assessed by segmental arterial stiffness or local arterial wall properties, is associated with lower gait performance in older adults independent of other confounders.