Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV): A Reliable Marker of Kidney Dysfunction

With increasing age and vascular disease, arteries become stiffer, which increases the work required by the heart. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a surrogate marker of arterial stiffness and has been shown by many past studies to be an independent predictor of cardiovascular risk. Increasing arterial stiffness can result in the smaller arteries in our body, such as those in our kidneys, to experience greater stress and result in damage.

In a recent cross-sectional analysis of 2,244 participants from the Jackson Heart Study, higher PWV was shown to be associated with reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (a key measure of kidney function) and higher levels of albuminuria in middle-aged to elderly African Americans, meaning the kidneys were less effective in filtering blood.1 An earlier longitudinal study in 2,795 chronic kidney disease patients also found that higher PWV predicted the worsening of kidney function as well as death over a 5-year time-frame.2 Taken together, these studies demonstrate the value of PWV measurement in assessing the risk of kidney damage and dysfunction.

1 Nagarajarao HS, Musani SK, Cobb KE, et al. Kidney Function and Aortic Stiffness, Pulsatility, and Endothelial Function in African Americans: The Jackson Heart Study. Kidney Med. 2021;3(5):702-711.e1. doi:10.1016/j.xkme.2021.03.018

2 Townsend RR, Anderson AH, Chirinos JA, et al. Association of Pulse Wave Velocity With Chronic Kidney Disease Progression and Mortality: Findings From the CRIC Study (Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort). Hypertension. 2018;71(6):1101-1107. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10648

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