Aim: To investigate the prevalence and geographical variation of high arterial stiffness in groups from the Amami islands (Amami) and Kagoshima mainland (mainland), Japan, using the cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI) as a surrogate marker of arterial stiffness. Methods: We recruited 4,523 health checkup examinees from Amami and 440 examinees from the mainland, with an age range of 40-69 years. The frequency of high arterial stiffness (CAVI ≥9.0) was geographically compared between the regions, and both mean CAVI values were compared with those of the healthy Japanese population with less risk factors for coronary artery disease. Clinical, lifestyle, and regional factors for increased CAVI values were estimated by the multiple linear regression model. Results: The frequency of high arterial stiffness on Amami was significantly lower than on the mainland. Mean CAVI values on Amami were similar in males and lower in females than in the healthy Japanese population, but those on the mainland were higher for both sexes. Age, systolic blood pressure, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, and a history of hypertension and diabetes mellitus were positively related to increased CAVI values on Amami. The regional factor of Amami, compared with the mainland, was negatively related to increased CAVI values in both sexes after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Conclusion: CAVI values in Amami residents were significantly lower than in mainland residents, suggesting that environmental or genetic factors might have improved arterial stiffness in the Amami population.
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