Arterial Pulse Pressure


Arterial Pulse Pressure

Category: General


This article describes arterial pulse pressure as it is reported in the results of a Pulsewave® reading. It also provides a summary of some key topics relating to arterial pulse pressure, such as its classification.

Applies To




Arterial Pulse Pressure


Blood Pressure


Diastolic Blood Pressure


Systolic Blood Pressure


Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by blood on the walls of blood vessels. It is typically represented with two numbers: systolic blood pressure (SYS) and diastolic blood pressure (DIA). These numbers describe the pulsatile nature of BP – SYS denoting the maximum, and DIA the minimum pressure during a heartbeat. Arterial pulse pressure (APP) is the numeric difference between SYS and DIA. This result is displayed (in traditional units of mmHg – millimeters of mercury) for each Pulsewave® reading.

The increase in pressure from DIA to SYS, i.e., APP, is the amplitude of a pressure pulse. This amplitude is related to various characteristics of the cardiovascular system. This includes the volume of blood that is pumped by the heart during a heartbeat, called the stroke volume, and the compliance or stiffness of the arterial walls.

Arterial Pulse Pressure Classification

Normal adult resting APP is considered to be 40 mmHg. Significantly higher or lower resting APPs may indicate an underlying condition, and may increase the risk of heart problems. Significantly low APP may indicate a low stroke volume, and may cause insufficient blood flow throughout the body. Such poor heart function may lead to heart failure. Significantly high APP may be due to underlying conditions such as hypertension, heart valve regurgitation, atherosclerosis, anemia, or an overactive thyroid. Although there are levels of risk associated with high or low APP, it is very important that your physician determine this for you. This is because the degree of risk is dependent not only on your APP, but various other factors as well, such as pulse rate and age.

Additional Resources

Mayo Clinic. Pulse pressure: An indicator of heart health? [Online]. Available: Accessed: 2011-02-23.

Wikipedia. Pulse pressure [Online]. Available: Accessed: 2011-02-23.