Arterial pulse-wave velocity is a noninvasive index of arterial distensibility now generally advocated to assess cardiovascular health above-and-beyond merely measuring blood pressure. A host of recent findings supports its use. This evidence draws attention to the fact that vascular stiffness precedes the increase in blood pressure with age and that even nonpharmacological lifestyle interventions can improve distensibility independent of blood pressure. Where do these ingeniously modern ideas come from, and who defined the principles we embrace today? A worthwhile lesson in physiology and exercise in humility is the effort to revisit the origins of these concepts and the man to whom gratitude should be directed.
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