Benefits of Sports for Arterial Distensibility in Youths
Keywords:Arterial distensibility, Pulse wave velocity, Sportsmen, Blood pressure, Youths.
Arterial distensibility (AD) measures the ability of relaxation for arteries in response to pressure changes. Its reduction is closely associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and higher pulse wave velocity (PWV), the gold standard method for AD evaluation. Several factors can decrease AD and therefore increase arterial stiffness, such as atherosclerosis which begins in childhood. Exercise has been related to beneficial effects in blood pressure and heart rate which are associated to AD. The main objective of this study was to compare carotid-femoral PWV (PWVcf) between two populations of youths, sportsmen and non-sportsmen, in order to identify potential benefits of sports practice in AD. Additionally, systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP) blood pressure and heart rate (HR) were also compared. 78 individuals with ages between 15 and 20 years old were divided into two samples: Sportsmen (n= 43, 79% male and 21% female) and Non-Sportsmen (n= 35, 71% male and 29% female). Sociodemographic data, cardiovascular risk factors and weekly physical load were assessed using an individual survey. PWVcf, SBP, DBP and HR were measured with validated automatic devices. Samples were homogeneous as to gender, race and body mass index. Mean PWVcf was lower in the Sportsmen although without statistical significance (Sportsmen: 6,21 ±0,95m/s; Non-Sportsmen: 6,33 ±0,84m/s). The samples were heterogeneous as to HR (Sportsmen: 62,44 ±9,77bpm; Non-Sportsmen: 88,03 ±15,43bpm) and DBP (Sportsmen: 67,70 ±6,59mmHg; Non-Sportsmen: 78,29 ±9,35mmHg).
The results are consistent with physiological adaptations to exercise which may be characterized by increased vagal tone and production of nitric oxide. Lower PWVcf in Sportsmen was observed and is consistent with improved AD, although non-significant between our samples, which may vary depending on each individual type and period of sports practice. A beneficial effect of sport in the Sportsmen sample was obverse, with significantly lower mean values of HR, SBP and DBP and a trend towards lower values of PWVcf, in keeping with an overall better preservation of arterial distensibility in youths.
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