The Arterial Windkessel

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
  • Mark I. M. Noble
  • Berend E. Westerhof


The Otto Frank’s arterial Windkessel consists of a peripheral resistance, the summed resistance of all small arteries, arterioles and capillaries, and a total arterial compliance the summed compliances of all arteries, mainly the aorta and conduit arteries. Later, after input impedance data became available, the model was extended to the three-element Windkessel by addition of the aortic characteristic impedance. The Windkessel model can help us to understand how the arterial system functions, it can be used as a realistic load in isolated heart studies, it can be used in modeling, and it can form the basis for estimating arterial system parameters. The Windkessel is a ‘lumped model’ and does not take in account pressure and flow waves.


Two-element Windkessel Three-element Windkessel Exponential aortic pressure decay Methods to derive total arterial compliance Hypertension Age 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolaas Westerhof
    • 1
  • Nikolaos Stergiopulos
    • 2
  • Mark I. M. Noble
    • 3
  • Berend E. Westerhof
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Amsterdam Cardiovascular SciencesVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Laboratory of Hemodynamics and Cardiovascular TechnologyEcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Institute of BioengineeringLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine and TherapeuticsUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUnited Kingdom

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