Blood Pressure Should Be Measured In Both Arms
February 26, 2014

Research Touts Benefits Of Taking Blood Pressure In Both Arms

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

New research led by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has discovered a possible link between differences in interarm blood pressure and an increased risk of a future cardiovascular event, presenting new evidence to support the belief that diagnostic tests should be measured in both arms.

Typically, medical care providers take blood pressure measurements using just one arm. However, the new study, which appears in the March edition of The American Journal of Medicine, calls for expanded clinical use of interarm blood pressure measurement. Interarm blood pressure involves taking a pair of readings: one in the left arm, and one in the right.

The study authors examined 3,390 individuals who were each at least 40 years of age and free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. They found that participants with interarm systolic blood pressure differences of 10 mmHg or greater were at a far higher risk of future cardiovascular events than those with lower differences between arms.

“In this large prospective, community based cohort of middle-age men and women free of cardiovascular disease, an increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference was found to be present in nearly 10% of individuals and is associated with increased levels of traditional cardiovascular risk factors,” lead investigator and cardiologist Dr. Ido Weinberg explained in a statement Tuesday.

Dr. Weinberg and his colleagues also found that higher interarm systolic blood pressure difference levels are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular incidents, regardless of other risk factors. Furthermore, they discovered that participants with elevated interarm blood pressure differences tended to be older with higher cholesterol levels, higher systolic blood pressure and a greater prevalence of diabetes mellitus.

Based on those findings, the researchers are recommending that doctors and hospitals should take blood pressure readings in both arms in order to obtain the most accurate readings possible and detect differences in interarm blood pressure. Doing so can help them detect cardiovascular risk factors earlier, and that early detection could help combat one of the primary causes of death in the US.

“Even modest differences in clinically-measured systolic blood pressures in the upper extremities reflect an increase in cardiovascular risk,” said Weinberg. “This study supports the potential value of identifying the interarm systolic blood pressure difference as a simple clinical indicator of increased cardiovascular risk.”

In related research published earlier this week, a team of American and Japanese doctors reported that switching to a vegetarian diet can be an effective way for a person to reduce his or her blood pressure. They also found that people who ate only vegetables have a lower average blood pressure than those who regularly consume meat.