A Historical Journey on the Physiology of Blood Pressure Monitoring

  • Audrey Adji
  • Michael F. O’Rourke


The arterial pulse has been the most basic sign of life for centuries. The radial pulse palpation has been pictured in the crest of the Royal Academy College of Physicians since 1628. The history of the arterial pulse entails the discovery of pulse, blood pressure and/or flow, and their measurements. This chapter begins with a review the description of the pulse and the related discoveries of pulse and blood pressure and/or flow since the ancient period until the late 1970s where the concept of haemodynamics and importance of pressure and flow pulsatility as well as methods to analyse the pulse in both time and frequency domains gained wider acceptance. Human aging is associated with an increase in blood pressure, particularly systolic and pulse pressures, and this is attributable to the loss of distensibility of the human aorta of which its function is to cushion pulsation from the ejecting heart. Stiffening of the major elastic arteries due to aging will cause the speed of the travelling pulse to be higher, and the reflected pulse wave from periphery to occur earlier, therefore will increase the amplitude of pressure. To understand how arterial haemodynamics is altered by the ageing process and cardiovascular disease is vital and this involves accurate measurement of central (or aortic) pressure. Finally, the chapter briefly considers the demand and technology to develop cuffless blood pressure measuring devices. This development could allow a device that can measure blood pressure accurately, with ease, comfortably and continuously.


Systolic pressure Diastolic pressure Mean pressure Pulse pressure Pressure pulse wave Sphygmocardiography Aging Hypertension Arterial stiffness 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Audrey Adji
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael F. O’Rourke
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.St Vincent’s Clinical School, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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