The Combined Effect of Hypertension and Smoking on Arterial Stiffness
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Arterial stiffness plays a critical role in the function of the cardiovascular system as it represents the coupling of the left ventricle and arterial tree. Increased arterial stiffness is associated with a number of cardiovascular complications. Increased stiffness occurs with age and with the development of chronic conditions (e.g., hypertension) and the presence of vascular risk factors (e.g., smoking). Measuring arterial stiffness is increasingly gaining popularity as a method of assessing cardiovascular health and treatment efficacy. The purpose of this review was to assess the combined effect of hypertension and smoking on arterial stiffness. A systematic review of the literature revealed four relevant studies; hypertension and smoking were found to be independent detrimental factors for raising arterial stiffness, and combined they raise arterial stiffness more than either solitary factor. However, a need was identified for future studies to determine the extent to which smoking cessation therapy combined with the appropriate anti-hypertensive medication can lead to stabilization or even reversal of arterial stiffness.
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