Arterial and Aortic Pulse Pressure
As the left ventricle ejects blood into the aorta, the aortic pressure increases. The greater the stroke volume, the greater the change in aortic pressure during ejection. The maximal change in aortic pressure during systole (from the time the aortic valve opens until the peak aortic pressure is attained (see Cardiac Cycle) represents the aortic pulse pressure, which is defined as the systolic pressure minus the diastolic pressure. For example, if the systolic pressure is 130 mmHg and the diastolic pressure is 85 mmHg, then the pulse pressure is 45 mmHg.
Pulse Pressure = Systolic Pressure − Diastolic Pressure
- A highly compliant aorta (i.e., less stiff) has a smaller pulse pressure for a given stroke volume into the aorta.
- A larger stroke volume (not shown in the figure) produces a larger pulse pressure at any given compliance.
- Aortic compliance decreases with age due to structural changes, thereby producing age-dependent increases in pulse pressure.
- For a given stroke volume, compliance determines pulse pressure and not mean aortic pressure.
- However, because vessels display dynamic compliance, increasing the rate of ventricular ejection (as occurs with increased ventricular inotropy) will increase the pulse pressure compared to the same volume ejected at a lower rate.
RK Revised 03/29/2007