Pulse Waves; Measuring a menopausal woman’s pulse wave at her wrist may help explain the increase in cardiovascular disease risk during menopause better than a standard blood pressure measurement, according to preliminary research present at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2019 Scientific Sessions.
Radial pulse waves
While research shows that age, gender and body mass index (BMI) play important roles in cardiovascular disease risk, it’s not clear why the risk spikes when women are in menopause. Researchers in this study use radial pulse waves; so measuring the beat of the heart through the artery at the base of the wrist. Checking radial pulse waves is easy, non-invasive and can offer more data than just looking at systolic or diastolic blood pressures, the researchers said.
They study 327 premenopausal and postmenopausal women with no history of heart disease, tracking the women’s systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements; so as well as 12-second continuous radial pulse data. Through mathematical models; hence they convert the pressure wave of the radial pulse into frequency waves. Each frequency wave was assign a corresponding harmonic amplitude; so classification from C1 to C5; which provides different information than pulse rate or blood pressure, said Chi-Wei Chang, Ph.D.
“For example, a violin and clarinet can play the same note but sound different because of the harmonic components of these instruments’ overtones,” Chang said. “Two people can have a heart rate of 75 beats per minute, but their harmonic amplitudes can vary dramatically. Analyzing the differences between these harmonic components reveals more individualize information about a person’s circulatory system.”
Information reflected changes
The researchers found radial pulse wave information reflect changes during menopause that were not evident in systolic or diastolic blood pressure measurements. Specifically, the first and third harmonics C1 and C3 were impact. C1 is relate to heart attack and heart failure, according to Chang. They also found: BMI is the largest factor affecting a woman’s blood pressure and risk for hypertension.
Age affects only systolic blood pressure. Menopause does not change blood pressure; but can increase one’s cardiovascular disease risk, as seen in changes in harmonic components of the radial pulse. Additionally, according to this study, the C1 and C3 harmonics in radial pulse waves may shed light on hormonal changes during menopause; so that indicate the progression of atherosclerosis; but more work is need to know for sure, Chang said. This information can be useful in better understanding a woman’s cardiovascular disease risk.
“Healthcare providers can measure a menopausal woman’s radial pulse to see if the patient’s C1 harmonic is affect. If it is, they can monitor a patient’s situation more closely and take action; hence to prevent cardiovascular disease from becoming more severe,” Chang said. One of the limitations of the study is this increase in the amplitude of the first; also third harmonics of the radial pulse wave only suggests that menopause increases the risk of heart disease by exacerbating atherosclerosis. More research is need to demonstrate how and why that occurs, Chang said.