A widened pulse pressure is when the difference between the systolic blood pressure and the diastolic blood pressure is greater than 40 mmHg, according to Mayo Clinic. A widened pulse pressure is often due to stiffness of the aorta from atherosclerosis.
Blood pressure readings have a top value, the systolic pressure, which is around 120 mmHg, and a bottom value, the diastolic pressure, which is around 80 mmHg. The difference, which is the pulse pressure, is usually 40 mmHg.
A pulse pressure greater than 60 mmHg increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Widened pulse pressure may be the result of leaky heart valves, anemia or hyperthyroidism. Narrow pulse pressure may be due to poor heart function.