31 July, 2014    #9

Systolic & Diastolic

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Systolic” is derived from the Ancient Greek word “systole” meaning “to contract”.  Thus, Systolic Blood Pressure (SP) is the highest arterial pressure that occurs during a heartbeat after the heart’s Left Ventricle contracts, pushing blood into our arteries.


Diastolic” is also derived from the Ancient Greek word “diastole” meaning to dilate or inflate after contraction.  Thus, Diastolic Blood Pressure is the lowest arterial pressure during a heartbeat while the Left Ventricle is refilling with blood.


Systolic (the highest pressure) and Diastolic (the lowest pressure) during a heartbeat are usually represented as a ratio of pressures:


SP/DP or 125/82 mmHg


As we age, SP usually increases and our DP usually decreases due to arterial stiffness or loss of arterial flexibility.  Therefore, it may be unrealistic to expect an elderly patient’s BP to fall within the Normal Ranges stated below.


SP:    90 to 120 mmHg

DP:    60 to   80 mmHg


I like to think of these ranges as Optimal Ranges or Reference Ranges rather than Absolute Normal Ranges.  If a patient’s BP is outside a Normal Range, then the patient’s BP must be Abnormal; which may not be the case when age and other factors are taken into account.


Mike Kohut, President, DDMS





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