Significance of Pulse Pressure

What is pulse pressure ?

Pulse Pressure (PP) is the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure values. In lay mans terms, pulse pressure is the difference between the highest and the lowest values of your blood pressure.

For example, if you have a blood pressure of 120/80 then your pulse pressure would be 120 – 80 = 40.

 There are three components to any blood pressure reading:

  • systolic pressure
  • diastolic pressure
  • pulse pressure

Normal value of Pulse pressure:

Studies have shown that pulse pressure shouldn’t be more than 60 mm hg. i.e, 140/80 is better than 140/70 as in later one, pulse pressure is 140 – 70 = 70.

Significance of Pulse Pressure

If pulse pressure is above 60 mm of hg, it poses higher risk of cardiovascular events, specially in elderly patients.

Studies have shown that the risk of coronary event is associated more with higher pulse pressure (70 or more) than with hypertension. Which means Pulse Pressure might be a stronger predictor of heart risk than hypertension alone.

Predictive factors with age

We can divide population in three groups depending upon main predictive factors for coronary events:

  1. less than 50 = diastolic pressure
  2. 50 – 59 = systolic pressure
  3. 60 or more = pulse pressure

Pulse pressure is a sensitive marker for coronary artery stenosis, increased risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and sudden death associated with it.

So a blood pressure of 140/90 is better than 140/70 because of the pulse pressure.

How to reduce pulse pressure

Pulse pressure can be controlled by diuretics and calcium channel blockers, most of them work by lowering the systolic pressure, thus reducing the pulse pressure.

Natural methods to control pulse pressure are weight control, exercise, decreased salt intake etc.

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