Compliance and diameter in the human abdominal aorta--the influence of age and sex

Björn Sonesson, F Hansen, Håkan Stale, Toste Länne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES. Females develop cardiovascular diseases and abdominal aortic aneurysms later in life than males. In this study we investigated the diameter and compliance of the distal abdominal aorta in healthy females of varying ages. The results were compared with those obtained previously from healthy males in order to assess potential sex-related differences in the aging process of the abdominal aorta. METHODS. An ultrasound phase-locked echo-tracking system was used to determine differences in diameter and pulsatile diameter change of the distal abdominal aorta in 69 Caucasian females from 4 to 74 years. Pressure strain elastic modulus (Ep) and stiffness (beta) were calculated from diameter, pulsatile diameter change and blood pressure obtained by the auscultatory method. Compliance was defined as the inverse of Ep and beta. The pressure dependence of Ep and beta was evaluated in 10 females with intraarterial blood pressure measurement at rest and during isometric exercise. RESULTS. The diameter of the distal abdominal aorta increased not only in the period between the ages of 5 and 25 years, but also by about 24% between 25 and 70 years (p < 0.0001). From about the age of 25 years the diameter was smaller in females than in males (p < 0.01). Ep and beta increased nearly linearly with advancing age in females from 0.18 x 10(5) to 1.17 x 10(5) N/m2 (Ep) and from 1.85 to 8.51 (beta). In males the increase in Ep and beta was greater and exponential in nature (p < 0.001). Ep but not beta increased significantly during blood pressure increase (p < 0.05). Stiffness (beta) may therefore be a more useful index of arterial compliance than Ep. CONCLUSIONS. This investigation demonstrates age and sex-related differences in diameter and compliance in the normal human abdominal aorta and implies that degenerative changes appear later in females than in males.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-697
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1993

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Pediatrics/Urology/Gynecology/Endocrinology (013240400), Emergency medicine/Medicine/Surgery (013240200)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Clinical Medicine


  • Sex differences
  • Aortic compliance
  • Ultrasonic echo-tracking
  • Ultrasound


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