Oscillatory and pulsatile flows of Newtonian fluids in straight elastic tubes are simulated numerically with the aid of Ling and Atabek’s “local flow” assumption for the nonlinear convective acceleration terms. For the first time, a theoretical assessment of the local flow assumption is presented, and the range of validity of the assumption is estimated by comparison with perturbation solutions of the complete flow problem. Subsequent simulations with the local flow model indicate that the flow field and associated wall shear stress are extremely sensitive to the phase angle between oscillatory pressure and flow waves (impedance phase angle). This phase angle, which is a measure of the wave reflection present in the system, is known to be altered by arterial disease (e.g., hypertension) and vasoactive drugs. Thus, the paper elucidates a mechanism by which subtle changes in systemic hemodynamics (i.e., phase angles) can markedly influence local wall shear stress values.

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