The Difference Between Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
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Because there's less blood in the large arteries between heartbeats, diastolic pressure tends to decrease.
If your pulse pressure is greater than 60 it's considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, especially for older adults. Stiffness of the body's largest artery, the aorta, is the leading cause of increased pulse pressure in older adults. High blood pressure or fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries (atherosclerosis) can make your arteries stiff. The greater your pulse pressure, the stiffer and more damaged the blood vessels are thought to be. Treating high blood pressure usually reduces pulse pressure. Following a healthy lifestyle is also important. Heart-smart strategies include getting regular exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol and reducing the amount of salt in your diet.
Cuffs that are too small give results erroneously high; cuffs that are too large give results erroneously low. The patient should be comfortably seated and the deflated cuff applied with the bladder centered over the brachial artery. It should be high enough on the arm to allow the stethoscope to be placed in the antecubital fossa without touching the cuff. Pressure is then rapidly increased to at least 30 mm Hg higher than that which eliminates a palpable radial pulse (Janeway TC. 1915).
And whether you’ve got high or low blood pressure, tracking your systolic and diastolic numbers is a great way to gauge how well lifestyle changes or medications are working.
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Janeway TC. Important contributions to clinical medicine during the past 30 years from the study of human blood pressure. Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp. 1915;26:341–50.
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