To evaluate central (carotid) artery blood pressure (BP) in endurance athletes.
Derived ascending aortic pressure and direct carotid pressure waveforms were recorded using radial and carotid tonometry at rest in 30 endurance athletes and 30 sedentary controls, all males matched for age, height, brachial systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP.
Whereas brachial BP was similar in the two groups, carotid SBP and pulse pressure (PP) were higher in endurance athletes than in controls irrespective of age (123.1±2.17vs. 110.2±1.29mmHg, and 50.9±1.95vs. 34.1±1.01mmHg, respectively; p<0.0001 for both). PP amplification evaluated from the brachial/carotid PP ratio was lower in athletes than in sedentary controls (1.057±0.037vs. 1.40±0.002, respectively; p<0.0001) at each given value of heart rate. When compared to controls, athletes had lower PWV (7.81±0.17 vs. 9.8±0.23m/s; p<0.0001), higher reflected wave transit time/left ventricular ejection time ratio (p=0.02) and lower heart rate (52.03±1.54vs. 68.9±1.72 beats/min ; p<0.0001).
Central, and not brachial, SBP and PP are significantly higher in endurance athletes when compared to matched controls. A long-term follow-up is needed to investigate this finding, which is associated with reduced heart rate and disappearance of PP amplification