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Reduced arterial stiffness in very fit boys and girls

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2016

Heidi Weberruß
Institute of Preventive Pediatrics, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
Raphael Pirzer
Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
Thorsten Schulz
Institute of Preventive Pediatrics, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
Birgit Böhm
Institute of Preventive Pediatrics, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
Robert Dalla Pozza
Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
Heinrich Netz
Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
Renate Oberhoffer
Institute of Preventive Pediatrics, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
E-mail address:


Low cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with higher cardiovascular risk, whereas high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness protect the cardiovascular system. Carotid intima-media thickness and arterial distensibility are well-established parameters to identify subclinical cardiovascular disease. Therefore, this study investigated the influence of cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength on carotid intima-media thickness and arterial distensibility in 697 children and adolescents (376 girls), aged 7–17 years. Cardiorespiratory fitness and strength were measured with the test battery FITNESSGRAM; carotid intima-media thickness, arterial compliance, elastic modulus, stiffness index β, and pulse wave velocity β were assessed by B- and M-mode ultrasound at the common carotid artery. In bivariate correlation, cardiorespiratory fitness was significantly associated with all cardiovascular parameters and was an independent predictor in multivariate regression analysis. No significant associations were obtained for muscular strength. In a one-way variance analysis, very fit boys and girls (58 boys and 74 girls>80th percentile for cardiorespiratory fitness) had significantly decreased stiffness parameters (expressed in standard deviation scores) compared with low fit subjects (71 boys and 77 girls<20th percentile for cardiorespiratory fitness): elastic modulus −0.16±1.02 versus 0.19±1.17, p=0.009; stiffness index β −0.15±1.08 versus 0.16±1.1, p=0.03; and pulse wave velocity β −0.19±1.02 versus 0.19±1.14, p=0.005. Cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with healthier arteries in children and adolescents. Comparison of very fit with unfit subjects revealed better distensibility parameters in very fit boys and girls.

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© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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