Healthy Heart Reports
High Blood Pressure Systolic/diastolic
Thirty years ago, doctors though that having a high diastolic blood pressure put you at high risk for heart
attacks, but the Framingham study changed all that. You have two blood pressures: the systolic that
measures blood pressure when your heart contracts, and the much lower diastolic when your heart
relaxes. When your heart contracts, it pushes a huge amount of blood forward to your arteries. Your
arteries are supposed to act like balloons and expand to accept the blood and prevent your blood pressure
from rising too high. Having plaques in your arteries stiffens them and prevents them from expanding
when your heart contracts, causing your blood pressure to rise higher than normal; and the stiffer your
arteries, the higher your blood pressure rises.
Diastolic blood pressure is only a weak predictor of your susceptibility for a heart attack. The
Framingham study shows that the systolic heart contraction blood pressure is far more important than the
diastolic relaxation blood pressure to determines your likelihood to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Your
risk is increased further if you have high blood cholesterol, sugar or insulin, an enlarged heart or if you
WB Kannel.Historic perspectives on the relative contributions of diastolic and systolic blood pressure elevation to
cardiovascular risk profile.American Heart Journal, 1999, Vol 138, Iss 3, Part 2, Suppl. S, pp S205-S210.
Copyright 2003 www.DrMirkin.com
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.
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