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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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Glossary of Terms

Blood Pressure (Systolic, Diastolic)
Measured in two levels, blood pressure is the degree of pressure exerted by the heart and arteries to keep the blood circulating in the blood vessels throughout the body. The maximum level, systolic pressure, records the force exerted in the arteries with each heartbeat or contraction, to propel the blood out of the left ventricle of the heart and into the aorta, the large artery. The minimum level, the diastolic pressure, records the relaxed phase of the heart, between beats. This pressure indicates to the doctor the condition of the small blood vessels or arterioles--that is, their ability to contract and keep the flow of blood constant throughout the body.


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