Behavior of the pulse wave is a function of arterial compliance. The pulse wave is a wave of distension that passes down the vessel following each ventricular ejection. Pulse wave velocity is approximately ten times that of flow velocity, several meters per second rather than cm per second (Figure 09).
Pulse wave velocity is greater in smaller arteries and with greater age because the walls of smaller arteries have lower compliance, and structures with lower compliance carry the pulse wave faster. As discussed earlier, the walls of older arteries are stiffer, causing the pulse wave to move faster.
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