Objective: We aimed to investigate the combined effects of arterial hypertension, bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) and age on the distensibility of the ascending and descending aortas in patients with aortic coarctation.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: The study was conducted at two university medical centres, located in Berlin and London.
Participants: A total of 121 patients with aortic coarctation (ages 1-71 years) underwent cardiac MRI, echocardiography and blood pressure measurements.
Outcome measures: Cross-sectional diameters of the ascending and descending aortas were assessed to compute aortic area distensibility. Findings were compared with age-specific reference values. The study complied with the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology statement and reporting guidelines.
Results: Impaired distensibility (below fifth percentile) was seen in 37% of all patients with coarctation in the ascending aorta and in 43% in the descending aorta. BAVD (43%) and arterial hypertension (72%) were present across all ages. In patients >10 years distensibility impairment of the ascending aorta was predominantly associated with BAVD (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.33 to 7.22, p=0.009). Distensibility impairment of the descending aorta was predominantly associated with arterial hypertension (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.08 to 7.2, p=0.033) and was most pronounced in patients with uncontrolled hypertension despite antihypertensive treatment.
Conclusion: From early adolescence on, both arterial hypertension and BAVD have a major impact on aortic distensibility. Their specific effects differ in strength and localisation (descending vs ascending aorta). Moreover, adequate blood pressure control is associated with improved distensibility. These findings could contribute to the understanding of cardiovascular complications and the management of patients with aortic coarctation.