Differences in Blood Pressure Between Arms May Signal Blood Vessel Problems

22-May-2012

Differences in blood pressure readings taken from the left and right arms may be a sign of heart and blood vessel disease, according to a new review of recent research.

Researchers found that a difference of 15 points or more in the readings between the left and right arms raised the risk of peripheral vascular disease, a narrowing or blockage of the arteries, by two-and-a-half times.

That same 15 point-difference in systolic readings (the top number in a blood pressure reading) also increased the risk of cerebrovascular disease by 60%. Cerebrovascular disease is associated with thinking problems, such as dementia, and an increased risk of stroke.

Researchers say the results suggest that doctors should routinely compare blood pressure readings from both arms to prevent unnecessary deaths. Although the practice of taking blood pressure from both arms as a part of heart disease screening has been adopted in Europe, and some guidelines in the U.S. recommend it, American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, MD, says it’s not routinely done in the U.S.

Read the full article on the differences in blood pressure readings by Peter Russell and Jennifer Warner:  Review by Sheena Meredith, MD. 30/1/2012



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