Mechanistic insights on age-related changes in heart-aorta-brain hemodynamic coupling using a pulse wave model of the entire circulatory system

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Age-related changes in aortic biomechanics can impact the brain by reducing blood flow and increasing pulsatile energy transmission. Clinical studies have shown that impaired cardiac function in patients with heart failure is associated with cognitive impairment. Although previous studies have attempted to elucidate the complex relationship between age-associated aortic stiffening and pulsatility transmission to the cerebral network, they have not adequately addressed the effect of interactions between aortic stiffness and left ventricle (LV) contractility (neither on energy transmission nor on brain perfusion). In this study, we use a well-established and validated one-dimensional blood flow and pulse wave computational model of the circulatory system to address how age-related changes in cardiac function and vasculature affect the underlying mechanisms involved in the LV-aorta-brain hemodynamic coupling. Our results reveal how LV contractility affects pulsatile energy transmission to the brain, even with preserved cardiac output. Our model demonstrates the existence of an optimal heart rate (near the normal human heart rate) that minimizes pulsatile energy transmission to the brain at different contractility levels. Our findings further suggest that the reduction in cerebral blood flow at low levels of LV contractility is more prominent in the setting of age-related aortic stiffening. Maintaining optimal blood flow to the brain requires either an increase in contractility or an increase in heart rate. The former consistently leads to higher pulsatile power transmission, and the latter can either increase or decrease subsequent pulsatile power transmission to the brain. We investigated the impact of major aging mechanisms of the arterial system and cardiac function on brain hemodynamics. Our findings suggest that aging has a significant impact on heart-aorta-brain coupling through changes in both arterial stiffening and left ventricle (LV) contractility. Understanding the underlying physical mechanisms involved here can potentially be a key step for developing more effective therapeutic strategies that can mitigate the contributions of abnormal LV-arterial coupling toward neurodegenerative diseases and dementia.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Heart Rate; Heart; Hemodynamics (physiology); Aorta; Vascular Stiffness (physiology); Brain (blood supply); Blood Pressure (physiology)

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American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology







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