Contribution of blood viscosity in the assessment of flow-mediated dilation and arterial stiffness

Kristin L. Parkhurst, Hsin Fu Lin, Allison E. Devan, Jill N. Barnes, Takashi Tarumi, Hirofumi Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) is a non-invasive index of endothelial function. In an attempt to standardize FMD for shear stimulus, shear rate (velocity/diameter), rather than shear stress (viscosity*velocity/ diameter), is commonly used as a surrogate measure, although it is limited by individual differences in blood viscosity. The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of whole blood viscosity to FMD and other key measures of vascular function. Blood viscosity, FMD, carotid artery compliance, and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) were measured in 98 apparently healthy adults varying widely in age (18-63 years). Whole blood viscosity was not significantly correlated with FMD, cfPWV, or carotid artery compliance. Shear rate was a stronger correlate with FMD than shear stress that takes blood viscosity into account (r = 0.43 vs 0.28). No significant differences were observed between whole blood viscosity and traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Age was positively correlated with cfPWV (r = 0.65, p < 0.001) and negatively correlated with FMD (r = -0.24, p < 0.05) and carotid artery compliance (r = -0.45, p < 0.01). Controlling for viscosity did not reduce the strength of these relations. These results indicate that whole blood viscosity does not significantly impact measures of vascular function and suggests that the common practice to use shear rate, rather than shear stress, in the adjustment of FMD is valid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-234
Number of pages4
JournalVascular Medicine (United Kingdom)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • carotid artery compliance
  • pulse wave velocity
  • shear rate
  • shear stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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