The contribution of whole blood viscosity in assessment of vascular function
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Although blood viscosity is an important component in determining vascular function, it is often assumed constant. Emerging evidence linking individual differences in viscosity to cardiovascular disease casts doubt on this assumption. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of whole blood viscosity to key measures of vascular function. To address this aim as comprehensively as possible, first, whole blood viscosity was compared with traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Then flow-mediated dilation (FMD), carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV), and carotid artery compliance were calculated either with or without blood viscosity taken into account. Lastly, we tested whether the removal of blood viscosity could influence well-established associations between age and vascular function. Blood viscosity and vascular function were measured in 97 adults ranging in age from 18-63 years. No significant differences were observed between whole blood viscosity and traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Whole blood viscosity was not significantly correlated with FMD, cfPWV, and carotid compliance. As expected, age was positively correlated with cfPWV (r=0.65, p<0.001) and negatively correlated with FMD (r=-0.21, p<0.05) and carotid compliance (r=-0.45, p<0.01). Even after controlling for viscosity, these relationships remained statistically significant (cfPWV r=0.65, p<0.001; FMD r=-0.24, p<0.05; carotid compliance r=-0.44, p<0.05). These results indicate that whole blood viscosity does not appear to significantly impact measures of vascular function and that the rationale for including whole blood viscosity in the calculation of vascular function remains weak.