Pulse pressure is the difference between systolic pressure and diastolic pressure.
It is calculated as:
PP = systolic pressure – diastolic pressure.
Other factors that can widen pulse pressure are:
Increase in stroke volume (during exercise, systolic pressure increases more than diastolic pressure)
Decrease in vessel compliance (as we grow older, compliance decreases. Therefore older people have higher pulse pressure compared to younger ones).
The compliant artery will have a small pulse pressure and stiffened artery will have significant pulse pressure.
As we go distally from the heart, pulse pressure increases because diastolic blood pressure and compliance of vessel decreases.
This concept is applicable to arteries only because pulse pressure does not take into consideration of venous system.
If you are presented with any vein in multiple choices on an exam, do not select that answer because if calculated, veins will always have lower pulse pressure compared to arteries.
Adapted from: Fundamentals of Cardiology: Concise Review for USMLE and General Medical Boards To review any cardiac condition, just search on google followed by 'medrx education'. For example: Atrial fibrillation medrx education. You can also review all up-to-date materials in our book "Fundamentals of Cardiology".