Widened Pulse Pressure: Definition, Causes & Treatments

The values of blood pressure are read in two numbers: the upper reading and the low reading. The upper reading represents the systolic pressure, i.e.,the maximum pressure exerted by the heart when it beats or pumps blood to the organs.The lower reading represents diastolic pressure, i.e., the pressure generated in the arteries between the heart beats. Pulse pressure is related with both systolic and diastolic pressure. The numeric difference between these two readings is regarded as pulse pressure. For instance if the blood pressure is 120/80mmHg, then the pulse pressure is 40, which is considered as the normal pulse pressure. At times certain conditions result in widened pulse pressure that may be problematic.

What Is Considered as Widened Pulse Pressure?

Pulse pressure above 40mmHg is categorized as wide pulse pressure. And if it exceeds 60, then you may be at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.

Based on its relationship with systolic and diastolic blood pressure, there are three factors that may contribute to this:

  • Rise in systolic pressure
  • Decline in diastolic pressure
  • Occurrence of both the above conditions

What Causes Widened Pulse Pressure?

It has been explained before what exactly happens in the body when people experience widened or widening pulse pressure. Below we will discuss the causes in detail.

It is normal to have widened blood pressure after or during exercising, which will go back to normal within 10 minutes.

  • Some individuals experience progressive rise in systolic pressure while doing aerobic exercise whereas their diastolic pressure remains same.
  • Some aerobically athletic people like distance runners experience progressive decline in the diastolic while the systolic rises. This facilitates in the escalation of stroke volume and ultimately the cardiac output, enabling enhanced physical performance and aerobic capacity.
  • The decline in the diastolic pressure contributes to a greater drop in total peripheral resistance in response to exercising. Body builders or people with increased BMI may exhibit low diastolic pressure with wide pulse pressure due to large muscle mass.

Sometimes, however, the rise and fall in the systolic and diastolic pressure serves as the red flag for an underlying serious condition that requires medical help. Listed below are the possible causes of this condition:

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Anxiety
  • Anemia
  • Aortic dissection
  • Heart block
  • Endocarditis
  • Chronic aortic regurgitation
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Raised intracranial pressure

How to Treat Widened Pulse Pressure


As we've already known that keeping the blood pressure under control will ultimately keep the pulse pressure within the normal range, anti-hypertensive medications may help treat the wide pulse pressure since hypertension is often the cause of it.

  • Thiazide diuretics: They act on the kidney and promote the elimination of sodium and water from the body, thereby reducing the blood volume and the blood pressure.
  • Beta blockers: They act on the heart, causing it to beat slowly by promoting vasodilation (opening of blood vessels) and consequently lowering the blood pressure.
  • ACE inhibitors: They act by inhibiting an enzyme called angiotensin which causes vasoconstriction. Once the enzyme is inhibited, the vessels become dilated and the blood pressure drops.
  • ARBs: They block the action of angiotensin II enzyme by inhibiting the receptors, and cause dilation of blood vessels to lower the elevated blood pressure and pulse pressure.
  • Calcium channel blockers: These drugs target the muscles of the blood vessels and help in lowering the blood pressure by relaxing them.
  • Renin inhibitors: They inhibit or slow down the renin production, a chemical responsible for the activation of series of reaction that ultimately increase the blood pressure.
  • Vasodilators: They act on the muscles present in the arterial wall, preventing the arteries from narrowing.

Home Remedies

  • Exercise: The effective way to reduce the blood pressure and ultimately the pulse pressure is exercising. It may help reduce up to 10mmHg of pulse pressure.
  • Weight loss: Losing weight will also help lowering the pulse pressure.
  • DietIt's nota surprise that the food rich in carbohydrates, especially the ones made of wheat flour, sugar and cornstarch, tend to make you overweight and hypertensive. Therefore, throwing these foods not only out of your fridge but also out of your life will help lowering the widened pulse pressure.
  • Vitamin D: By nature, vitamin D possesses antagonizing actions against the angiotensin converting enzyme which is responsible for increasing the pulse pressure. It usually lowers up to 5mmHg of pulse pressure.
  • Magnesium: When you become deficient of magnesium, you are likely to experience elevated pulse and systolic pressure. The adequately absorbed forms of magnesium are magnesium malate and magnesium glycinate. This may help reduce up to 5-10mmHg of pulse pressure. However, for better results, you'll need proper magnesium levels in your body for years. 
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