Arterial Stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis. Inflammation plays a major role in arteriosclerosis development, and consequently it is a major contributor in large arteries stiffening. Increased arterial stiffness is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, hypertension, heart failure and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the developed world. The World Health Organization predicts that in 2010, cardiovascular disease will also be the leading killer in the developing world and represents a major global health problem.
Several degenerative changes that occur with age in the walls of large elastic arteries are thought to contribute to increased stiffening over time, including the mechanical fraying of lamellar elastin structures within the wall due to repeated cycles of mechanical stress; changes in the kind and increases in content of arterial collagen proteins, partially as a compensatory mechanism against the loss of arterial elastin and partially due to fibrosis; and crosslinking of adjacent collagen fibers by advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs).