Forearm vasodilator responses to environmental stress and reactive hyperaemia are impaired in young South Asian men

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Colleges, School and Institutes


PURPOSE:Prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is greater in South Asians (SAs) than White Europeans (WEs). Endothelial dysfunction and blunted forearm vasodilatation to environmental stressors have been implicated in CVD. We investigated whether these features are present in young SA men.

METHODS:In 15 SA and 16 WE men (19-23 years), we compared changes in forearm blood flow, arterial blood pressure (ABP), forearm vascular conductance (FVC), heart rate, and electrodermal resistance (EDR; sweating) following release of arterial occlusion (reactive hyperaemia endothelium-dependent) and 5 single sounds at 5-10 min intervals (stressors).

RESULTS:All were normotensive. Peak reactive hyperaemia was smaller in SAs than WEs (FVC increase: 0.36 ± 0.038 vs 0.44 ± 0.038 units; P < 0.05). Furthermore, in WEs, mean FVC increased at 5, 15, and 20 s of each sound (vasodilatation), but increased at 5 s only in SAs, decreasing by 20 s (vasoconstriction). This reflected a smaller proportion of SAs showing forearm vasodilatation at 15 s (5/15 SAs vs 11/16 WEs: P < 0.01), the remainder showing vasoconstriction. Concomitantly, WEs showed greater bradycardia and EDR changes. Intra-class correlation analyses showed that all responses were highly reproducible over five sounds in both WEs and SAs. Moreover, sound-evoked changes in ABP and FVC were negatively correlated in each ethnicity (P < 0.01). However, WEs showed preponderance of forearm vasodilatation and depressor responses; SAs showed preponderance of vasoconstriction and pressor responses.

CONCLUSIONS:Endothelium-dependent vasodilatation is blunted in young SA men. This could explain their impaired forearm vasodilatation and greater pressor responses to repeated environmental stressors, so predisposing SAs to hypertension and CVD.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979–988
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
Early online date3 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • reactive hyperaemia , forearm dilatation , mental stress , South Asian