Hypertension is a major risk factor for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases and is typically identified by measuring blood pressure (BP) at the brachial artery. Although such a measurement may accurately determine diastolic BP, it does not accurately reflect systolic BP. This is mainly attributed to the fact that blood pressure waveform is distorted as it travels outward from the heart due to the presence of wave reflections from the peripheral arteries. Due to this distortion, blood pressure measured at the brachial artery provides an inaccurate measure of central aortic systolic pressure. However, central systolic BP is an important factor determining cardiac function and work, while central diastolic BP may determine coronary flow. Consequently central (aortic and carotid) pressures are pathophysiologically more relevant than peripheral pressures and thus their non-invasive accurate estimation is challenging and clinically necessary. The purpose of this review is to present methods and techniques that are used for the estimation of central blood pressures and to describe and discuss issues regarding methodological procedures, reproducibility, validity and limitations.
Keywords: Wave reflections, applanation tonometry, echo-tracking, pulse wave analysis, transfer functions, pulse wave velocity, repeatability, arterial stiffness