Pulse Wave Velocity

What is Pulse Wave Velocity?
Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) is a measure of arterial stiffness, or the rate at which pressure waves move down the vessel. As blood flows through the vessels of the circulatory system, it moves out of the left ventricle and into the aorta where it is then pushed through the rest of the circulatory system.  During systole, the contraction of the left ventricle and the ejection of blood into the ascending aorta acutely dilates the aortic wall and generates a pressure wave that moves along the arterial tree.  The velocity of this movement gives a measurement of arterial compliance.  With age, or due to changes in the arterial wall, these vessels become stiffer and the speed at which the pressure wave moves through the system is increased.

In addition, there are reflected pressure waves that move back towards the heart at the end of the systolic period.  When the pressure waves move faster through the arteries, the reflected waves will also move back quicker.  This causes more work on the Cardiovascular system due to the increased afterload on the ventricle resulting in a greater systolic pressure needed to overcome this afterload.

Why Measure Pulse Wave Velocity?
PWV measures the performance of the arteries and has been established as a highly reliable prognostic parameter for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in a variety of adult populations including older adults, patients with end-stage renal disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

How is Pulse Wave Velocity Measured?
PWV can be collected by using two pressure catheters placed a known distance from one another, referred to as the Pulse Wave Distance.  The time it takes the pressure wave to go from the upstream pressure catheter to the downstream pressure catheter provides the Pulse Transit Time (PTT).  PWV can then be calculated by dividing the distance by the transit time providing a measure of cardiovascular health.


DSI has developed robust solutions for data acquisition and analysis in studies looking at PWV. Available monitoring solutions cover small to large animal species with industry leading technology.

Implantable Telemetry

PhysioTel System_SA_MX2

PWV can be measured in small animals using a dual-pressure PhysioTelTM HD 
implant. DSI's HD-S21 or HD-S20 implants where long-term monitoring for cardiovascular disease progression is desirable. 

Hardwired Signals

DSI also offers a hardwired solution in which two pressure catheters are inserted at different points, a known distance apart.  The pressure information is then acquired using an ACQ-7700 acquisition interface unit and a Universal XE signal conditioner.

Acquisition and Analysis

Ponemah software, PNM

Ponemah Software – Ponemah is a complete physiologic data acquisition and analysis software platform used by physiologists, pharmacologists, and toxicologists to confidently collect, accurately analyze, and quickly summarize study data.

PWV articles citing DSI in Google Scholar

DSI's bibliography search tool may help you find publications known to use DSI technology. It is searchable by keyword, title and author and references of interest can be easily exported. The following publications have been included as key references to understanding the use of animals in the study of pulse wave velocity.


Bourland, JD., Geddes, LA. “Smooth muscle relaxation: effects on arterial compliance, distensibility, elastic modulus, and pulse wave velocity.” Hypertension.  1998: 32(2): 356-9.

Grenwis, JE., Bogie, H., Main. B. “A Chronic Method for Measuring Real-time Pulse Wave Velocity in Conscious Rodents.” Data Sciences International (DSI). 2012.

Hunter, R. “Hemodynamic, ECG and Function Telemetry in Conscious Ferrets Administered Verapamil.” Poster, Safety Pharmacology Society, September 2011.

Isabelle, M., Chimenti, S., Gransagne, D., Chariglione, S., Vayssettes-Chourchay, C., Villeneuve, N., Bilaine, JP. “New Method to Assess Arterial Stiffness in Conscious Unrestrained Rats by Telemetry.” Servier Research Institute. 2012.

Kitayama, T., Saito, T., Kajihara, M., Harada, K. “Evaluation of effects on cardiac contractility in conscious common marmosets using telemetry.” Journal Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods.  2012: 66(2):  195-196.

Konrad, PE., Tacker, WA. “Implanted pulse sensors for measuring pulse wave velocity.”  Journal of Clinical Engineering.  1989: 14(6).

Mitchell, GF, Pfeffer, MA, Finn, PV, and Pfeffer JM. “Comparison of techniques for measuring pulse-wave velocity in the rat.” Journal of Applied Physiology. 1997; 82:203-210.

O’Rourke, MF., Gallagher, DE. “Pulse Wave Analysis.” Journal of Hypertension.  1996; 14: 147-157.

Poulin, D. “An Exploratory Efficacy Study of Pulmonary Arterial Pressure in Spraque-Dawley Rats.” Poster, American College of Toxicology, November 2011.

Segreti, J. “Simultaneous Measurement of Arterial and Left Ventricular Pressure in Conscious Freely Moving Rats by Telemetry.”  Poster 101, Safety Pharmacology Society, September 2010.

This information is provided in good faith and believed accurate at the time of writing. No
 responsibility will be taken, or liability accepted, for damages arising from the use of information herein.