Pulse Wave Velocity in Youth with and Without Visual Impairment


  • Lauren Bates
  • Dr. Elizabeth Lenz
  • Dr. Lauren J. Lieberman
  • Dr. Brooke Starkoff


Pulse wave velocity, arterial stiffness, visual impairment, youth


Arterial stiffness (AS) is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a common tool used to non-invasively measure the compliance of the arteries, and is the current gold standard for measuring AS. Individuals with visual impairments (VI) may be at risk for CVD as a result of barriers to physical activity. Limited data exist examining PWV of children and adults with VI. No research currently exists examining PWV in youth with VI. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in PWV between youth with VI and those with no visual impairment (NVI). Youth with VI (N= 9, age 11.1±0.6, height 150.5±14.3 cm, weight 52.1±27.6 kg, BMI 21.8±7.2 kg/m2) voluntarily participated in this study during a weeklong sports camp for youth with VI. NVI youth (N=18, age 9.1±0.3, height141.4±5.0 cm, weight 34.7±7.1 kg, BMI 17.3±3.3 kg/m2) attending elementary school also volunteered to participate during a typical school week. Carotid-femoral PWV was measured non-invasively. Independent t-tests found that PWV was significantly higher in the NVI youth compared to youth with VI (4.82±0.83 m/s vs. 3.67±0.78 m/s respectively, p=0.005). While both groups were within normal limits for PWV, these results refuted our hypothesis, as previous research has found individuals with VI to be at an increased risk for CVD.

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