BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The blood pressure and flow waveforms carry valuable information about the condition of the cardiovascular system and a patient's health. Waveform analysis in health and pathological conditions can be performed in the time or frequency domains; the information to be emphasised defines the use of either domain. However, physicians are more familiar with the time domain, and the changes in the waveforms due to cardiovascular diseases and ageing are better characterised in such domain. On the other hand, the analysis of the vascular and geometrical variables determining the signatures in the frequency response of local vascular anomalies, such as aneurysms and stenoses, has not been thoroughly explored. This paper aims to characterise the signatures of obstructions (stenoses) and expansions (aneurysms) in the frequency response of tapered arteries.
METHODS: The first step in our methodology was to incorporate the viscous response of the arterial wall into a one-dimensional elastic formulation that solves the governing equations in the frequency domain. As a second step, we imposed a volumetric flow excitation in arteries simulating the aorta with increasing geometry complexity: from straight to tapered arteries with local expansions or obstructions; and we assessed the frequency response.
RESULTS: We found that the obstructions and expansions cause characteristic signatures in an artery's frequency response that are distinguishable from a health condition. The signatures of obstruction and expansions differ; the obstructions increase the magnitude of fundamental frequency and work as a close boundary condition. On the other hand, the expansions diminish the fundamental frequency and work as an open boundary condition. Furthermore, such signatures correlate to the distance between the artery's inlet and the anomaly's starting point and have the potential to pinpoint abnormalities non-invasively.
CONCLUSIONS: We found that the obstructions and expansions cause characteristic signatures in an artery's frequency response that have the potential to detect and follow up on the development of vascular abnormalities. For the latter purpose, constant monitoring may be required; despite this not being a common clinical practice, the new wearable technology offers the possibility of continuous monitoring of biophysical markers such as the pressure waveform.