1. Repeatability of measurements of arterial compliance and flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery has been infrequently reported, despite increasing use in interventional and risk-factor modification studies. Furthermore, little is known about the interrelationships of the various indices. The purposes of this study were to determine the repeatability and interrelationships of a range of arterial indices.
2. Fifty healthy volunteers, 20 men and 30 women, aged 20–70 (mean 46.5) years, were studied on two occasions, using an identical protocol, at a mean interval of 2.5 weeks. Tonometry, ultrasound and Doppler technique were used to measure the following: carotid wall intima-media thickness (IMT), total systemic artery compliance (SAC), arterial pulse wave velocity [PWV aorto-femoral (A-F), and femoral-dorsalis pedis (F-D)], carotid distensibility coefficient (DC) and carotid augmentation index (AI). Brachial flow-mediated dilation was measured in 30 subjects with analysis of diameter change for 4 min post ischaemia.
3. There were no systematic differences over the observed range of measurements for any of the reported parameters. Coefficients of variation were as follows: IMT 2.8%, SAC 9.2%, PWV(A-F) 3.2%, PWV(F-D) 5.0%, DC 10.0%, AI 1.3%. Brachial flow-mediated dilation curves were not different between visits; changes were maximum 60-s post ischaemia. All indices of arterial compliance were significantly correlated with age. The three different indices of central arterial compliance [SAC, PWV(A-F) and AI] were significantly correlated with carotid intima-media thickness.
4. Under controlled experimental conditions there was good repeatability of measurements of indices between sessions of both intrinsic and functional arterial mechanical properties (central and carotid arterial compliance, intima-media thickness and brachial flow-mediated dilation). Sample size tables for clinical trials using these indices are presented.