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Pulse Pressure

Your pulse pressure (also known as blood pressure amplitude) represents the force generated by your heart every time it contracts. It can easily be calculated as the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure.


What is pulse pressure?

The pulse pressure is the difference between your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Just as your blood pressure it is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Example: Your blood pressure reads 130 over 85 mmHg. This means that your pulse pressure is 45 mmHg.

Systolic Diastolic = Pulse Pressure
130 mmHg 85 mmHg = 45 mmHg

Pulse pressure can be an indicator for cardiovascular risks. It is, therefore, advisable to regularly monitor your pulse pressure.

Tip: Download the free Cora Health app to track your blood pressure and pulse pressure and improve your heart health with an heart-healthy lifestyle.

What influences the pulse pressure?

There are several factors which influence the pulse pressure. In general, the blood pressure amplitude is primarily an indicator for the elasticity of your blood vessels which decreases with increasing age.

However, the blood pressure amplitude is also dependent on the amount of blood ejected from the heart (the so called stroke volume) and the time between two heart beats (the so called diastole).

How to measure your pulse pressure

The pulse pressure can be measured by reading your blood pressure.

Learn more: How to measure read your blood pressure

The blood pressure app Cora Health is ideal for analyzing your pulse pressure. When reading your blood pressure you can either import your values automatically via Bluetooth and Apple Health into Cora (with these blood pressure monitors) or log your values manually to get a graphical evaluation of your pulse pressure in the app’s dashboard.

Normal pulse pressure

Contrary to blood pressure - where there are defined values of healthy blood pressure - there are no generally recognized norms for pulse pressure values. Nonetheless, there are benchmarks for your orientation: A blood pressure amplitude between 25 mmHg and 50 mmHg is often referred to as normal pulse pressure. Values above 50 mmHg are commonly referred to as wide pulse pressure, whereas values below 25 mmHg are referred to as narrow pulse pressure.

Wide pulse pressure

High pulse pressure affects the circulation of coronary vessels and causes a reduction in oxygen supply in the heart muscle.

As a result, wide pulse pressure can cause cardiovascular diseases. A study showed that an increase in pulse pressure by 10 mmHg raised the risk of stroke and heart attack by about 20 percent. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that a high blood pressure amplitude is a better predictor for cardiovascular diseases than systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Moreover, Harvard Medical School found out that high pulse pressure poses the risk for atrial fibrillation.

Increased pulse pressure can be triggered by a variety of factors. Illnesses that can affect your pulse pressure include aortic insufficiency (valvular heart defect), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland), and arteriosclerosis (a pathological storage of cholesterol in the wall layer of the arteries which reduces the elasticity of the blood vessels). Arteriosclerosis is particularly prevalent in people over the age of 60 and should be monitored by older people. Arteriosclerosis can also lead to isolated systolic hypertension (high blood pressure).

Narrow pulse pressure

Even though there are no commonly accepted values for narrow pulse pressure, low pulse pressure values can be an indication for heart conditions such as cardiac insufficiency (also known as congestive heart failure).

Learn more about your heart health