The popliteal artery (PA) is, after aorta, the most common site for aneurysm formation. Why the PA is more susceptible than other peripheral muscular arteries is unknown. We hypothesized that the wall composition, which in turn affects wall properties, as well as the circumferential wall stress (WS) imposed on the arterial wall, might differ compared to other muscular arteries. The aim was to study the WS of the PA in healthy subjects with the adjacent, muscular, common femoral artery (CFA) as a comparison. Ninety-four healthy subjects were included in this study (45 males, aged 10-78 years and 49 females, aged 10-83 years). The diameter and intima-media thickness (IMT) in the PA and CFA were investigated with ultrasound. Together with blood pressure the WS was defined according to the law of Laplace adjusted for IMT. The diameter increased with age in both PA and CFA (p<0.001), with males having a larger diameter than females (p<0.001). IMT increased with age in both PA and CFA (p<0.001), with higher IMT values in males only in PA (p<0.001). The calculated WS was unchanged with age in both arteries, but lower in PA than in CFA in both sexes (p<0.001). In conclusion, this study shows that the PA and CFA WS is maintained during aging, probably due to a compensatory remodelling response with an increase in arterial wall thickness. However, the stress imposed on the PA wall is quite low, indicating that mechanisms other than WS contribute to the process of pathological arterial dilatation in the PA.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
- blood pressure
- popliteal artery