Pulmonary Hemodynamics

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


The pulmonary circulation obeys to the same physical laws and principles as the systemic circulation. However, large differences exist. Pulmonary Vascular Resistance is about seven-fold lower than its systemic counterpart. The pulmonary vasculature is a system of relatively short tubes that divide with a daughter-mother ratio of about 3 in arteries and inversely for veins. Also the venous system has little storage function. The resistance and compliance of the arterial and venous vasculature do not differ greatly. The product of arterial resistance and compliance (RC-time constant) is similar in health and hypertension. The shape of the right ventricle is much more crescent-shape while the left heart is more of an ellipsoidal shape, making estimations of right ventricular wall stress inaccurate. Systolic and diastolic pulmonary artery pressures are about 1.6 and 0.6 times mean pressure, respectively. Qualitatively the waves and input impedance are not unlike those in the systemic circulation, only the pressure and impedance modulus magnitude are smaller. In pulmonary hypertension pressures may rise by a factor 5.


Pulmonary vascular resistance, RC-time Pressure proportionality Pulmonary hypertension Vascular models 


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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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