LDL cholesterol is associated with systemic vascular resistance and wave reflection in subjects naive to cardiovascular drugs

Background and aim: Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a primary risk factor for atherosclerosis, but it is also associated with elevated blood pressure (BP) and future development of hypertension. We examined the relationship between LDL-C and haemodynamic variables in normotensive and never-treated hypertensive subjects.

Methods: We recruited 615 volunteers (19–72 years) without lipid-lowering and BP-lowering medication. Supine haemodynamics were recorded using continuous radial pulse wave analysis, whole-body impedance cardiography, and single channel electrocardiogram. The haemodynamic relations of LDL-C were examined using linear regression analyses with age, sex, body mass index (BMI) (or height and weight as appropriate), smoking status, alcohol use, and plasma C-reactive protein, sodium, uric acid, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index as the other included variables.

Results: The mean (SD) characteristics of the subjects were: age 45 (12) years, BMI 27 (4) kg/m2, office BP 141/89 (21/13) mmHg, creatinine 74 (14) µmol/l, total cholesterol 5.2 (1.0), LDL-C 3.1 (0.6), triglycerides 1.2 (0.8), and HDL-C 1.6 (0.4) mmol/l. LDL-C was an independent explanatory factor for aortic systolic and diastolic BP, augmentation index, pulse wave velocity (PWV), and systemic vascular resistance index (p < 0.05 for all). When central BP was included in the model for PWV, LDL-C was no longer an explanatory factor for PWV.

Conclusions: LDL-C is independently associated with BP via systemic vascular resistance and wave reflection. These results suggest that LDL-C may play a role in the pathogenesis of primary hypertension.