activity page will offer:
An insight into elastin and its association with Williams
experience in taking blood pressures
observation of how vessel diameter affects pressure
People with Williams Syndrome must have their blood pressure
monitored periodically. In a doctor's office, this procedure
is most often performed with a cuff, stethoscope and mercury-filled
manometer. At home, it can be done using an automatic blood
automatic device will measure blood pressure and display it
as two numbers--e.g., 110/80. The first number is the systolic
pressure (110). The systolic pressure is the force of the
maximum surge. The second number (80) is the diastolic pressure.
This is the "resting pressure" or baseline from which the
1-Measuring Blood Pressure
pressure monitor (automatic cuff)
- Work with a partner. Before obtaining a pressure, deflate
the cuff. You can release air from the cuff by pressing
the release valve on the bladder.
- Position the cuff around the upper arm. Secure it with
the Velcro strap.
- Inflate the cuff with a series of quick pumps. The pressure
should go up to about 150. Stop pumping.
- The air will automatically seep from the cuff. As the
air escapes, the device will begin monitoring the blood
vessel, recording both the systolic and diastolic pressures.
- As the cuff deflates, the systolic pressure will be the
first reading recorded and displayed.
- The next reading is the diastolic pressure.
- Obtain three measurements for the right arm.
- Record your blood pressure. Do you have high blood pressure?*
In adults, hypertension is diagnosed as a blood pressure
of 140/90. In kids (who have more resilient and less obstructed
vessels), hypertension is diagnosed at lower blood pressures.
Hypertension is also influenced by other factors such as
exercise, diet and lifestyle.
*If you have high blood pressure, see the school nurse to
find out what you can do about it.
- Why is it important for people with Williams Syndrome
to have their blood pressure monitored periodically?
- What do the two numbers of a blood pressure mean?
2 - Compromised Diameter
- Roll a sheet of clean paper into a tube. The tube should
have a diameter of about 1 inch (about 2.5 cm).
- Blow through the tube as hard as you can. Note any resistance
or difficulty in blowing air through the tube.
- Remove the straw from its wrapping. Blow through the straw
as hard as you can. Note any resistance or difficulty forcing
air through the straw.
- Through which of the two tubes did you blow the hardest?
- Why was it easier to blow air through the larger diameter
- If we were to apply this experience to Williams Syndrome,
what would the straw and paper tube represent?
What You Have Observed
How might a decreased diameter affect the health of a blood
vessel? To compensate for the restriction, the heart must
pump harder to move blood at the same rate through the vessels.
This harder pumping action raises blood pressure. At a high
enough pressure, the blood vessels may rupture and cause a
heart and other circulatory structures contain elastin. Elastin
allows a structure to stretch, then return to its "resting"
length. If muscle cells can only actively contract, what is
the relationship between elastin and the pumping action of
the heart tissue?
your instructor's permission, examine the bladder of a blood
pressure monitor. If possible, detach the bladder from its
connecting tube. Observe the function of the one-way valve.
How does this valve control the flow of air? How is the bladder
similar to a heart? How is it different? Although the bladder
does not contain elastin, it behaves as if it does. Explain.
Elastin is manufactured primarily when we are young. The older
we get, the less elastin is produced. Think about it. What
is the connection between this protein and the appearance
of wrinkles? How might research breakthroughs affect the appearance
of skin as we age?
Old Fashioned Way
Learn how to take blood pressures using a manual cuff and
of Williams Syndrome and its symptoms
site for parents, family members and others posted by the
Williams Syndrome Foundation
site that describes elastin and its role in the body
more Web links on this topic - visit our Resources
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,