Pulse pressure is the difference between the two blood pressure readings. A wide pulse pressure means a larger difference between these measurements and may indicate a higher risk of heart disease.
Experts define pulse pressure as the difference between systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).
The main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body is the aorta. The heart contracts and ejects blood from the left ventricle into the aorta. The maximum pressure in the aorta when this happens is known as SBP.
Conversely, when the heart relaxes before ejecting blood into the aorta, the minimum pressure is known as DBP.
SBP minus DBP equates to pulse pressure (PP). A wide PP refers to a larger difference than usual between these values and may indicate a higher risk of heart disease.
It is important to note that this article will discuss adult pulse pressure. For children, many factors, such as weight and age, will influence pulse pressure.
Read on to find out about wide pulse pressure, what it means, and what it could indicate.
A wide or large PP means someone’s PP is higher than average. A
Pulse pressure also has links to stroke volume and arterial compliance in the heart. These physiological terms describe the heart’s ability to pump blood and the arteries’ ability to extend and accommodate this.
To measure PP, a healthcare professional will first need to measure a person’s blood pressure. Typically, they will use an automatic blood pressure cuff or a device known as a sphygmomanometer.
This will provide them with a person’s SBP and DBP. An individual can then subtract their DBP from their SBP to get their PP.
Click here to learn more about how to measure the pulse.
However, with aging, there can be a decrease in the elasticity of the artery walls leading to stiffness. Doctors sometimes describe this as the hardening of the arteries. As the left ventricle contracts against hardened arteries, the SBP and DBP can increase, resulting in wide PP.
European guidelines suggest that a PP of over 60 mmHg in older adults has links to the stiffening of the arteries.
A wide pulse pressure may have associations with the following conditions:
Wide pulse pressure (PP) refers to when the difference between systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure is larger than 100.
While a wide PP can occur in well-trained athletes, it is more common due to aging. Evidence notes that in older adults, a wide PP can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other conditions.
A person can speak with a healthcare professional to measure their PP and diagnose underlying conditions or potential risk factors. Doctors may prescribe medication for people with wide PP and high blood pressure to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.