Do differences in blood pressure in both arms matter?

02 Feb

Although my blog is titled Healthcare Updates, I haven’t posted anything related to healthcare for some time now.  I also notice that my recipes get more views than the healthcare posts did…so, isn’t the message very clear?  However, I’m not giving up just yet and here is one very interesting research article that I found today. 

Coming back to the blog title, Do differences in blood pressure in both arms matter?  If you were trying to guess, here is the answer….Yes, it does matter if your blood pressure is different in both arms as this may signal a risk of heart disease.  A study published in the online edition of The Lancet presented data from a systemic review and meta-analysis and linked differences in blood pressure between arms to both central and peripheral vascular disease.  They establish that systolic differences of at least 15 mm Hg are associated with an increased risk of peripheral vascular disease and report weaker but significant associations with cerebrovascular disease and mortality (Clark, C. et al.  Do differences in blood pressure between arms matter? The Lancet. January 30, 2012).

A team of researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter in Devon, England, reviewed 28 studies that looked at differences in systolic blood pressure between arms.  The process called meta-analysis uses data from previously published studies to find trends that may not have become evident in the original data.  They found that a difference of 15 millimeters or more between the left and right arms increased the risk of peripheral vascular disease by 2.5 times, although a difference of even 10 mm could increase a patient’s risk. A 15-point difference also was associated with a 1.6 times higher risk of cerebrovascular disease and a 70% greater risk of dying from heart disease.  Interestingly, it does not matter which arm has the higher or lower pressure, it’s the difference between them that matters.

According to the authors, varying blood pressure readings between arms may signal the narrowing or hardening of a person’s arteries, particularly on one side of body. “If we don’t know to measure both arms, we’re not going to make the right diagnosis and the right treatment choices for our patients,” says lead study author Christopher Clark.

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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Healthcare


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