Objectives: Changes of vasoconstriction may be measured non-invasively using pulse transit time. This study assessed the sensitivity, test-retest reliability and validity of pulse transit time during vasoconstriction provocation and active standing, and the predictive value of pulse transit time for blood pressure drop.
Methods: Fifty-five younger (age < 65 years) and 31 older adults (age > 70 years) underwent electrocardiography, wrist and finger photoplethysmography and continuous blood pressure and total peripheral resistance measurements during vasoconstriction provocation using a cold pressor test (21 younger adults), or active stand tests (all other participants). Pulse transit time was defined as the time lag between the electrocardiography R-peak and the peak in the photoplethysmography first derivative; sensitivity as a significant decrease relative to baseline; test-retest reliability as the intra class correlation between different repeats of the same test; validity as the association between peripheral resistance and pulse transit time; predictive value as the association between supine resting pulse transit time and mean arterial pressure drop during active standing.
Results: Finger pulse transit time was sensitive and reliable (ICC 0.2–0.8) during vasoconstriction provocation, but wrist pulse transit time was poorly reliable (ICC 0–0.5); only finger pulse transit time was sensitive to and reliable (ICC 0.4–0.8) during active standing in both younger and older adults. Finger pulse transit time was not associated with total peripheral resistance. Supine resting pulse transit time had predictive value for blood pressure drop during active standing in older adults (β −0.16; p 0.025).
Conclusions: Pulse transit time was sensitive to and reliable during vasoconstriction provocation and active standing, but did not significantly differ between younger and older adults. Pulse transit time could not be demonstrated to particularly reflect vasoconstriction, but it had predictive value for blood pressure drop during active standing.
- Arterial stiffness
- Blood pressure
- Orthostatic hypotension
- Pulse transit time