Checking Your Blood Pressure
A normal doctor’s check-up typically involves basic medical routines like taking your blood pressure, which is usually done in one arm. But medical experts are now urging people to check blood pressure in both arms — the reading could be different between the two, which may signal some serious cardiovascular problems.
In a new study, researchers reviewed some 3,390 people who were over the age of 40 and who did not originally have cardiovascular disease. The authors followed them for about 13 years, and during this time, 598 of the participants had a first heart attack, stroke, or some other cardiovascular issue.
The study found that over 25 percent of those 598 people had a different systolic blood pressure reading of 10 or greater between one arm and the other — meaning, in a nutshell, that their blood pressure was higher in one arm than in the other.
This difference of 10 or greater is actually a risk factor for a cardiac problem, the study’s authors argue. It raises the risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular event by 38 percent, “even when the absolute difference in arm systolic blood pressure is modest,” the authors write.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, a difference in blood pressure between arms could be a sign of circulatory problems that may lead to peripheral artery disease or stroke. Another study conducted by British researchers found that people with an arm-to-arm difference of 15 or more were twice as likely to get peripheral artery disease, which involves clogged arteries that are in arms and legs, rather than the heart.
The authors of the study emphasize the importance of checking both arms; they state it should be a part of routine medical care.
But don’t let a small difference of only a few points scare you. In fact, having a difference in blood pressure between your arms is typically quite normal, if it’s only a few points. When the difference is higher than 10 points, you should talk to your doctor.
Typically, younger and healthy people may have a difference in blood pressure due to a muscle compressing an artery, or some structural problem, the Harvard Health Blog says. In people who are older, clogged arteries are usually the reason behind a significant difference.
To prevent a difference, the study’s lead author Ido Weinburg, an instructor in medicine at Harvard University, says there are a few things to keep in mind. “Relax before your blood pressure is taken,” Weinburg told The New York Times. “And have a measurement with several repetitions in each arm to see if there’s a difference.”
Source: Weinberg I, Gona P, O’Donnell C, et al. The Systolic Blood Pressure Difference Between Arms and Cardiovascular Disease in the Framingham Heart Study. The American Journal of Medicine. 2014.
I recently had openheart surgery. While recovering I have had a lot of time to research and analyze information about checking your blood pressure the correct way.
While I was in the hospital they always checked my blood pressure in just one arm. It varied a little but sometimes it went up some.
When I was in the hospital and discharged from the hospital the doctor “automatically” tried to put me on cholestrol medicine which contained statins.
This was done even though my cholestrol was borderline only.
They also tried to start giving me a blood pressure medicine even though I did not have high blood pressure.
If the my regular doctor and the doctor in the hospital had checked my left arm instead of allways checking my right arm they would have noticed a difference of 8-10 %.
This difference led them to believe I needed blood pressure medicine.
Remember your doctor will most likely not check both arms. You need to tell your doctor or nurse to check both arms for blood pressure.
Now you know something your doctor most likely did not tell you.
My next article will be on clogged arteries. Don’t fail to read it.
I am not a medical doctor. My advice is information I have read about. I am just cherry picking information I think you would like to know about. Be sure to double check my information and check with your doctor about information on this website. I don’t advise doing what your doctor has said not to do. I am not an expert. Consult an expert when answers to critical questions are needed before you do anything you have read about on this website.
I just add some additional information that maybe would be useful to you.
There are some things doctors and drug companies would rather you did not know.
I also have other websites.