Systolic Blood Pressure or Maximum Blood Pressure

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La systolic pressurethe Max pressure, is the blood pressure value when the heart is in the contraction phase, in order to push the blood into circulation; in other words, it is the blood pressure with each heartbeat.
The systolic pressure can undergo permanent drops or increases, which signal the presence of something that, in the human body, no longer works as it should.

Brief review of what blood pressure is

La blood pressure it is the force that the blood exerts against the walls of the blood vessels, as a result of the pumping action carried out by the heart.
Measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and in the resting state, blood pressure is usually defined through the values ​​of systolic pressure e diastolic pressure.
In humans, blood pressure depends on factors, such as:

  • Force of contraction of the heart;
  • Systolic output (i.e. the amount of blood leaving the heart with each ventricular contraction);
  • Heart rate (i.e. the number of heartbeats per minute);
  • Peripheral resistances (ie the opposing resistances to the circulation of the blood by the state of constriction of the small arterial vessels);
  • Elasticity of the aorta and great arteries (vascular compliance);
  • Volemia (i.e. the total volume of blood circulating in the body).

What is systolic blood pressure?

La systolic pressure - also called Max pressure or simply "maxim”- is the value of blood pressure at the moment in which an individual's heart contracts. In other words, it is the value that the arterial pressure assumes at each heartbeat, necessary to send the blood into circulation (to understand the mechanism by which the heart works, see the article cardiac mechanics).
The systolic pressure acts as a counterbalance to the diastolic pressure, which instead represents the value of the arterial pressure when the heart of an individual relaxes, therefore the pressure value between two heartbeats.

How is blood pressure reported numerically?

Said already of the unit of measurement used, in reporting the blood pressure of a person, doctors compare the systolic pressure with the diastolic pressure. From this it follows that, in the ratio, the upper value is the maximum pressure, while the lower value is the minimum pressure.
Now, if in an individual the systolic pressure is equal to 120 mmHg and the diastolic pressure is 80 mmHg, the blood pressure ratio (therefore the total arterial pressure) of the subject in question will be written 120/80 mmHg and it will read "120 out of 80 millimeters of mercury ".

Normal systolic pressure

The measurement of blood pressure in an individual in excellent health can have systolic pressure values ​​between 90 and 120 mmHg, and diastolic pressure values ​​between 60 and 80 mmHg.
Thus, the so-called normal systolic pressure falls within a range of values ​​not lower than 90 mmHg and not higher than 120 mmHg.

Associated pathologies

Almost always in association with diastolic blood pressure, systolic pressure can be subject, in a permanent way, to drops or increases that go beyond the normal limits. These alterations generally represent something that, in the human organism, does not work perfectly.
Going into more detail:

  • When the systolic pressure is constantly below 90mmHg and the diastolic pressure is constantly below 60mmHg (so the maximum / minimum ratio is low blood pressure.
  • When the systolic pressure is consistently above 120 mmHg but below 140 mmHg and when the diastolic pressure is constantly above 80 mmHg but below 90 mmHg (so the maximum / minimum ratio is between 120/80 and 139/89 mmHg) , doctors talk about pre-hypertension.
  • Finally, when the systolic pressure is consistently above 140 mmHg and the diastolic pressure is consistently above 90 mmHg (so the maximum / minimum ratio is> 140/90 mmHg), doctors speak of hypertension or high blood pressure.

As readers can note, when you want to evaluate the blood pressure of an individual and any abnormalities, it is necessary to consider, to get a complete picture of the situation, both the maximum pressure and the minimum pressure.

Hypotension or low blood pressure

The state of hypotension can have different origins; in fact, it can be:

  • A physiological condition due to genetic factors or the regular practice of physical activity (constitutional hypotension). In these circumstances, the pressure drop is slight in both systolic and diastolic values ​​and lacks any real symptoms.
    Generally, constitutional hypotension is not a dangerous condition; indeed, according to some experts, it would seem to protect against cardiovascular risk.
  • A condition due to a particular disease (pathological hypotension). In such situations, the degree of maximum low pressure and minimum low pressure can be extremely marked and, therefore, cause symptoms and complications.
    Pathological hypotension requires ad hoc treatment.
    Diseases that can cause a substantial reduction in blood pressure include: Addison's disease, folate or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, anaphylactic shock, dehydration, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, some forms of arrhythmia, bradycardia, valvulopathies, pulmonary embolism, septic shock, acidosis, severe brain trauma and spinal cord injuries.
  • A condition resulting from taking certain medications (drug hypotension o iatrogenic hypotension). In these situations, the drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure is variable, meaning that it can be more or less marked.
    Drugs potentially capable of causing hypotension include: drugs with antihypertensive power (diuretics, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor antagonists, alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, etc.), trinitrine (or nitroglycerin), anesthetics used for spinal anesthesia, narcotics, tricyclic antidepressants, levodopa combined with carbidopa and some erectile dysfunction drugs (e.g. Viagra, Levitra or Cialis) in combination with nitroglyerine.
  • A condition due to pregnancy, specifically to the hormonal changes that gestation involves in the woman (gestational hypotension).
    Normally, in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, pregnant women experience an average drop in systolic blood pressure of approximately 5-10 mmHg and an average decrease in diastolic blood pressure greater than 10 mmHg.
    To learn more, readers can consult the article: Low Blood Pressure in Pregnancy.


Pre-hypertension is not exactly a pathological state - as is hypertension or intermediate / severe level hypotension - but it is rather a condition to be monitored, as if it were a sort of alarm bell that warns of the presence of something abnormal.
Those suffering from hypertension do not need a drug treatment, but they must change their lifestyle (which is often wrong) and pay attention to:

  • Diet;
  • Stress;
  • Smoke;
  • Alcohol;
  • Physical activity.

If timely, adopting a healthy lifestyle allows you to control pre-hypertension and bring systolic and diastolic pressure values ​​back to normal.

Hypertension or high blood pressure

Hypertension is a clinically relevant condition which, if not treated appropriately and promptly, can lead to serious complications, sometimes even life-threatening.
In fact, high levels of systolic pressure and diastolic pressure cause arterial blood to flow in such a way as to produce micro-lesions in the arteries in which it circulates, which, precisely for this reason, slowly undergo a process of atherosclerosis (i.e. they undergo a hardening and are the site of atheromas).
Atherosclerosis increases the risk of thromboembolism and affects the blood supply of important organs, such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.

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