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Arm Blood Pressure Differences May Predict Death

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Glynis Steele, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. Glynis Steele

    Glynis Steele Senior Member

    Newcastle upon Tyne UK

    A large difference between the blood pressure in each arm suggests a bigger risk of dying early, researchers claim.

    A study of 230 high blood pressure patients found those with big differences in systolic pressure were more likely to die from heart attack, stroke or other causes.

    More heart health checks may be needed in those with different readings, says the British Heart Foundation.

    Not all medics follow national guidance to measure blood pressure in both arms.

    Dr Christopher Clark from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, who led the study, published in the British Medical Journal, said the message to doctors was simple.

    "Sorry guys, but you really need to follow the guidelines by measuring both arms when you're assessing blood pressure," he told the BBC.

    The data

    The 230 patients attended GP surgeries in Devon; all had high blood pressure diagnosed after three GP visits and were followed for 10 years
    The study looked at systolic blood pressure - the "top" blood pressure reading
    Inter-arm differences of 10mm Hg or more predicted a bigger risk of dying early from a heart attack, stroke or other causes
    He said patients with high blood pressure who routinely checked their blood pressure at home should also follow the advice.

    "If they are being treated on the basis of their blood pressure, it's important to know if there's a difference between arms so they know their treatment is based on the correct measurements in the future."

    A previous analysis of 28 study papers in The Lancet also found that a large difference in readings could mean an increased risk of vascular disease and death.

    Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This study supports national guidelines, which recommend that blood pressure readings are taken in both arms. It is normal to have a small difference in your blood pressure readings between arms.

    "However, a big difference between your readings may carry risks, so more tests could be needed to check your heart health. If you want to find out your blood pressure, visit your GP or practice nurse to have it measured."

    People with different readings in each arm may have peripheral vascular disease, which often shows no symptoms.

    Stopping smoking, or medication to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart problems or stroke in these patients.
  2. Calathea

    Calathea Senior Member

    I've never once had my blood pressure taken in both arms. I think they'd look at me as if I were crazy if I were to suggest it. I have enough trouble getting them to take me seriously when my blood pressure is low, as I usually just get told, "Aren't you lucky not to have high blood pressure, this means you're at lower risk for stroke and so on."
  3. Patrick*

    Patrick* Formerly PWCalvin

    I have a digital blood pressure kit at home, and I remember the directions stating that the test must be performed on a specific arm, but I forgot which one. And the directions are lost. So usually I try it on both arms in the same sitting. The reading are almost always different, but sometimes it's only by a few degrees and sometimes as much as 10mm Hg or more.

    However, the article discusses a study of people with HIGH blood pressure. Usually, us ME/CFS patients have low blood pressure, so I wonder if these findings apply to us.

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