|MadSci Network: Anatomy|
There are many mechanisms the body uses to control blood pressure. Actually, the heart itself plays only a minor role in regulating the blood pressure. Most of the work is done by the kidneys and the medium sized arteries called arterioles. The heart responds to an increased need for blood flow in two ways:
[Admin note: Systolic blood pressure is the (maximal) pressure within the
cardiovascular system as the heart pumps blood into the arteries.
Diastolic pressure represents the minimum in pressure, as happens while the heart rests and fills with blood, prior to the next contraction.]
With regards to the change in pressure with exercise, it is not uusual for the systolic pressure to rise 10 to 20 mm of mercury during strenuous exercise. This is the pressure in the system while the heart contracts - the heart pumps faster, and pumps a greater volume of blood during exercise. However, diastolic pressure should not vary more than 5 to 10 mm of mercury as this represents pressure in the system when the heart is not contracting. An extreme rise in diastolic pressure during exercise could indicate a serious malfunction within the cardiovascular system.
Blood pressures average in the area of 120/80 +/- 10mm for children ages 10 to 12.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Anatomy.