Isolated systolic hypertension in the young (ISHY) remains a challenging problem, partly due to the differences in central aortic pressure observed in studies investigating ISHY. The fundamental relationship between heart rate and central aortic pressure, and more precisely, the relationship between heart rate and amplification of central aortic pressure in the periphery, underpins the assessment and, as a consequence, the treatment of ISHY. Physiology warrants that an increase in heart rate would lead to increased amplification of the pressure pulse between the aorta and the brachial artery. Heart rate generally decreases with age, in particular over the first two decades of life. Thus, a higher heart rate in the young would result in higher pulse pressure amplification, and therefore an elevated brachial systolic pressure would not necessarily translate to elevated aortic systolic pressure. However, elevated heart rate is not a consistent feature in ISHY, and studies have shown that ISHY can present with either high or low central aortic systolic pressure. In this brief review, we summarise the physiological aspects underlying the relationship between heart rate and central aortic blood pressure and its amplification in the brachial artery, how this relationship changes with age, and examine the implications of these effects on the assessment and treatment of ISHY.
- heart rate
- arterial pressure