Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mean Arterial Pressure: Biomarker of Health

Photo by Christiana Care.
There are a few different ways to view blood pressure.

The most common is a reading of the systolic and diastolic functions, an ideal reading being 120/80.

However, medical personnel are also interested in the mean arterial pressure also known as MAP.

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity.

This is calculated by doubling the diastolic blood pressure, adding it to the systolic and dividing by three.

For example, if we take the average blood pressure above and apply this calculation it looks like this:

(80 + 80 + 120)/3 = 93.3

Or you can plug in your systolic and diastolic numbers into an online MAP calculator.

The MAP lets them know if the body is getting too little profusion of blood (lower than 60) or too much (higher than 105).

Note: This post is to raise awareness only. It does not offer medical advice. If you have concerns about your circulatory system, please see a licensed medical professional. 

My blood pressure is 90/60, so my mean arterial pressure is 70.  

When I was on magnesium sulfate to deter pre-term labor, my blood pressure (BP) dropped even further to 85/50, making my MAP drop to 61.6. This was dangerously low, putting me as risk for kidney failure or other organ failures.

My husband has high blood pressure. There was a day that he had a pounding headache.  He foolishly addressed his headache by eating chocolate, drinking caffeinated beverages and taking a lot of acetaminophen.  These all elevate his BP. This pushed his BP up to 130/110, which was a MAP of 116.6, putting him at risk for a stroke or heart attack. He finally realized he forgot to take his BP medication. Now he takes a BP reading as the first response to having a headache.

There are numerous problems that can occur if the MAP is too high or too low.

A MAP that is too low can lead to organ failure because organs are not getting sufficient blood.

A MAP that is too high can lead to destruction of organs because they are getting too much pressure.

See this page if you would like a more technical discussion of MAP that explains the role of cardiac output, systemic vascular resistance, and central venous pressure.

If you would like to watch a video presentation about MAP, this nurse spends about 10 minutes explaining this biomarker.


Biomarkers of Health and Longevity


  1. Hmmmm, very interesting. Hadn't heard of this number. I'm going to check it out.

    1. It seems to be key for assessing BP in acute situations, but it's still interesting to see what my MAP is, considering it is correlated with pace of aging.

  2. This is good information! Over the past decade, I've tried to improve my health and whenever I dropped some weight or increased exercise, my bp changed. My bp medication changed several times. When it was too low, I felt even worse than when it was too high. I can't imagine how you must have felt when yours dropped to 85/50!

    1. You are smart to monitor your BP! All my best to you for continued good health, Pam.

  3. Hi Karen! This is new information to me too. I've enjoyed good blood pressure all my life but never even knew there was something else to check. I'll be doing that now. Thanks.

  4. The next question is, what does one do with this info once informed?

  5. Like your husband, I use to drink a coke classic when I had a pounding headache. I've since discovered healthier alternatives. One of them using peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil on my temples. Breathing in the scent helps tremendously.

  6. This is great information. I had no idea about MAP. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. I like this calculation. Very informative, thanks!