What Is Pulse Pressure

Pulse pressure (PP) is a measurement calculated by obtaining the difference between the systolic and the diastolic pressures. The systolic pressure is usually the numerator, and the diastolic makes up the denominator. Without a little background, the terms seem a little complex, but they’re actually simpler than you might think. A systole basically means a contraction of the heart. A diastole on the other hand means relaxation of the heart (the time it takes to fill it with blood again). The pressure felt during a contraction is the systolic pressure, while the pressure felt after the heart relaxes is the diastolic pressure. The pressure difference between these two is what comprises the pulse pressure.

What are the normal values?

There are many variables that come into play when it comes to establishing a normal pulse pressure. Given genetic, nutritional and other differences, there are many different readings that can be had. One reading that’s considered normal is 120/80mmHg (millimetres of mercury), which gives a pulse pressure reading of 40mmHg. This is actually the reference measurement for pulse pressure and is the expected in a normal resting adult. However, a range of up to 60mmHg is allowed. Anything above that is too high to simply ignore.

Low pp readings, especially those below 25mmHg are highly important medically.  They signify among other things, a decreased cardiac output, and could trigger shock.

Pulse pressure readings increase when physical activity is reported. Systolic and diastolic pressures shift to accommodate the changes and sustain the activity being carried out. However, if the pulse pressure readings are continually high, it could indicate a cardiac problem, such as stiffened arteries. This stiffening is sometimes associated with age, and results in increased systolic pressure. As a result, the pulse pressure reading is often elevated.

Increased systolic and diastolic pressures may increase cardiovascular risk, with a stroke or a myocardial infarction being the biggest concerns. Pulse Pressure are monitored with the blood pressure device. Every blood pressure device shows both systolic and diastolic pressures readings.

What to do when your PP is high?

As earlier established, having high pulse pressure is not good for your heart, or your overall health for that matter. If your pulse pressure readings are elevated, there are a few things (that exclude taking medication) you could do to ensure its back to normal. One is to stay active. Any exercise, anaerobic or otherwise, will help you get a better pulse pressure. Getting into better shape will also help, especially if you are overweight. Increasing your Vitamin D (folic acid) intake effectively reduces your pulse pressure as well.

Taking regular pulse pressure readings is important for your overall cardiac health. Remember to give regard to systolic and diastolic pressures when taking the readings, and not just the pp in isolation. Normal blood pressure measuring devices are used for monitoring pp.