Reference Intervals for Brachial Artery Flow-Mediated Dilation and the Relation With Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Sophie M. Holder, Rosa Maria Bruno, Daria A. Shkredova, Ellen A. Dawson, Helen Jones, Nicola D. Hopkins, Maria T.E. Hopman, Tom G. Bailey, Jeff S. Coombes, Christopher D. Askew, Louise Naylor, Andrew Maiorana, Lorenzo Ghiadoni, Andrew Thompson, Daniel J. Green, Dick H.J. Thijssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Endothelial function, assessed using brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD), predicts future cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. This study established age- and sex-specific reference intervals for brachial artery FMD in healthy individuals and examined the relation with CVD risk factors. In a retrospective study design, we pooled brachial artery FMD (acquired according to expert-consensus guidelines for FMD protocol and analysis) and participant characteristics/medical history from 5362 individuals (4–84 years; 2076 females). Healthy individuals (n=1403 [582 females]) were used to generate age-/sex-specific percentile curves. Subsequently, we included individuals with CVD risk factors, without overt disease (unmedicated n=3167 [1247 females] and medicated n=792 [247 females]). Multiple linear regression tested the relation of CVD risk factors (body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and smoking) with FMD. Healthy males showed a negative, curvilinear relation between FMD and age, while females revealed a negative linear relation that started higher but declined at a faster rate than males. Age- and sex-specific differences in FMD relate, at least partly, to baseline artery diameter. FMD was related to CVD risk factors in unmedicated (eg, systolic/diastolic blood pressure) and medicated individuals (eg, diabetes/dyslipidemia). Sex mediated some of these effects (P<0.05), with normalization of FMD in medicated men, but not women with dyslipidemia. In conclusion, sex alters the age-related decline in FMD, which may partly be explained through differences in baseline diameter. Sex also alters the influence of some CVD risk factors and medication on FMD. This work improves interpretation and future use of the FMD technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1480
Number of pages12
JournalHypertension (Dallas, Tex. : 1979)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021


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