What Is Pulse Wave Velocity and How Does It Work?

Dec 7, 2017 12:28:30 PM by Adam Sharp | pulse wave velocity, aortic stiffness, pwv, aortic pulse wave velocity, what is pulse wave velocity

Lady prepares to test with iHeart clipped on finger and iPad

In June 2016, we published a blog titled Pulse Wave Velocity: What It Is And Why It Matters. In it, we provided an overview of Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) and explained why it is one of the most important health metrics available to us today when gauging overall health.

In the time since its publication plenty of new material has surfaced to support these claims and PWV is fast gaining recognition by the general public as a ‘master metric’ worth paying attention to. The idea of the aorta as being central to overall health and longevity is rooted in eastern philosophy, and much like yoga in the 1980s we anticipate the mass recognition of PWV monitoring as a western health habit. There has already been a noticeable increase in interest just in the three years since iHeart, the world’s first consumer-level Aortic PWV monitor, was made available to the health-conscious public.


Pulse Wave Velocity and Aortic Stiffness

Pulse Wave Velocity is a measure of stiffness of the arteries, with Aortic PWV specifically focusing on that of the aorta—the body’s largest artery—which runs directly in front of the spine between the chest and abdomen. Stiffness of the aorta is a proven risk assessor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia, and is considered a key indicator of overall health.

“There is ample evidence that arterial stiffness is the strongest known biomarker for cardiovascular risk in general, with predictive power above and beyond all known conventional risk factors.”

- Open Access Government: Early stage Cardiovascular Disease Detection with Integrated Silicon Photonics (2017)

Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity is the speed at which reflected pressure waves travel along the walls of the aorta. The difference between their arrival time at the fingertip and the arrival of the heart’s initial pulse is measured in metres-per-second (see video below), and is then compared to a graph of average readings by age to present iHeart users with their Internal Age. The faster this reflected wave travels along the aorta, with speed directly affected by stiffness, the more at risk a person is for cardiovascular effects.

What Can I Do To Improve My Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity?

The aorta stiffens as we age and is also affected by lifestyle elements such as stress, exercise, diet and sleep. Fortunately it is reversible and there are numerous ways to improve Aortic PWV and, subsequently, Internal Age.

iHeart is a highly subjective and personal tool and every body will react differently to lifestyle choices. Over the last three years of Internal Age testing we have noticed a few things that consistently cause Aortic PWV improvements in the majority of people:

  • Stress management: Meditation, prayer, laughing/smiling more
  • Stretching the core: Yoga, swimming, stretching
  • Healthier eating: Reduce consumption of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, sodium. Increase consumption of omega-3, potassium, nitric oxide, antioxidants.


For a more in depth look at what can be done to lower Internal Age, take a look at some more of our recent blog posts:

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Author: Adam Sharp

Adam is the Community & Support Manager at VitalSines, Inc. He moved to Vancouver 8 years ago from Buckingham, England, after an extended period of travel throughout North America and Europe. This time provided a good opportunity to develop some social context, and a ten-year career in the entertainment industry offered the structure necessary to fulfill his current role at VitalSines. Adam’s hobbies include playing music, snowboarding, printmaking and cycling.

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