Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Blood Pressure Differences Between Arms Could Signal Heart Risk
avatar
cardiostarusa1 posted:
"Doctors should, for adults, especially adult smokers and diabetics, at some point check the BP in both arms. If there is a difference it should be looked into further."

My primary care doctor has been doing this for years.

People whose systolic blood pressure, the upper number in their reading, is different in their left and right arms may be suffering from a vascular disease that could increase their risk of death, British researchers report...,,

CardioStar*
[br>WebMD member (since 8/99)[br>
Was this Helpful?
3 of 3 found this helpful
Reply
 
avatar
cardiostarusa1 responded:
ADDITIONALLY:

Usually, but not always, there is only a small difference between blood pressure (BP, systolic and diastolic) readings in both arms.

It is reported that if the technique for taking the BP readings is good (accurate as possible), it's likely that the respective readings accurately reflect the pressure in each arm, BUT the higher reading reflects the "true" BP.

If/when there is a clinically significant/substantial difference in BP between one arm and the other (such as hypertension in one arm), this may/can be due to factors and conditions, such as coarctation (narrowing, congenital) of the aorta, aortic dissection (tear in the wall of the aorta), atherosclerosis (plaque buildup), and thrombosis/embolism (blood clot) in an artery in the arm.

Also, the right and left subclavian artery supplies oxygenated blood to the arms, and in a condition known as subclavian artery stenosis (SAS, most often acquired in life), BP will be lower in the arm with the narrowed subclavian (typically one artery is affected) artery, thus accordingly causing reduced blood flow through it.

BP begins to rise as one awakens, peaks in the late afternoon or evening, and then drops off gradually, becoming the lowest when sleeping. Normal resting blood BP in adults is under 120/80 with 115/75 or 110/70 considered as being optimal/ideal.

Taking BP measurements when at rest/relaxed will help yield more consistent readings. If one has had a peaceful night's sleep, then measurements are best taken as soon as one awakes in the morning, as at this time of the day, the body will be at its lowest functioning levels, both physically and mentally, and therefore the factors that affect BP will be minimized. One should try to take the BP at the same time(s) every day.

PLUS, there was a study, in which University of Virginia researchers tested 100 individuals two times, once while they perched on a doctor's table, feet dangling, and then again as they sat in a chair with both feet resting on the floor and their back and arms supported.

Systolic BP, the top number, dropped by 13 points on average while sitting in the chair. Why's this? According to study author Melly Turner, RN, if your arm, back, and legs are not supported, then you're exerting energy while being tested.

The prestigious American Heart Association has been recommending the chair method, but harried medical staff often don't employ it. Sit quietly in a proper chair for 5 minutes before having the BP checked, and be sure the arm being used rests on a flat surface.

- -

Patient resources

Family Doctor

Blood Pressure Monitoring at Home

http://familydoctor.org/128.xml

Mayo Clinic

Get the most out of home blood pressure monitoring

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure/HI00016


Featuring Experts

James Beckerman, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist at the Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic in Portland, OR. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Col...More

Helpful Tips

Coffee Can Lower Depression Risk in WomenGuest Expert
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204010604576594853506227020.html More
Was this Helpful?
1 of 1 found this helpful

Expert Blog

The Heart Beat - James Beckerman, MD, FACC

Dr. James Beckerman shares how small, livable lifestyle changes can have a real impact on your risk of heart attack and stroke...Read More

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health General and Consultative Heart Care Center