Definition: In cardiovascular medicine, this term refers to the elasticity of large arteries, which expand during cardiac systole (contraction), store some of the kinetic energy as potential energy and then coil back into the original shape. The arterial recoil allows for organ blood perfusion in diastole and thus, contributes to the diastolic blood pressure. With age or vascular disease the elasticity and therefore the windkessel effect decreases leading to lower diastolic blood pressure and a wider pulse pressure. (The term windkessel is German for air chamber, which allows in pump systems continuous flow of fluids by exerting pressure on the fluid reservoir when the pump is a stopped.)
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