The Effects of Weight Gain and Atorvastatin Treatment on Arterial Stiffness
Aging is characterized by a progressive stiffening of large elastic arteries in the cardiothoracic region. Importantly, large artery stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality in both healthy and diseased populations. The results of several studies suggest that obesity, particularly visceral adiposity, is associated with the accelerated stiffening of central elastic arteries in middle-aged and older adults. Despite the widely recognized association between obesity, aging and arterial stiffness, there remains a paucity of information regarding both the initiation of arterial stiffening and effective treatment strategies. To address these issues, we tested the hypotheses that weight gain increases arterial stiffness in nonobese young males, and atorvastatin treatment reduces large artery stiffness in overweight and obese middle-aged and older adults. Consistent with our first hypothesis, weight gain increased arterial stiffness in nonobese young men. In addition, we demonstrated that, independent of total body fat, those individuals with relatively larger increases in abdominal visceral fat also experienced correspondingly larger increases in arterial stiffness. Regarding our second hypothesis, atorvastatin treatment decreased arterial stiffness in overweight and obese middle-aged and older adults. Importantly, the reduction in arterial stiffness with atorvastatin appeared to be independent of the reduction in C-reactive protein. The findings of the present studies could potentially lead to the identification of effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of arterial stiffening in the population.