Arm BP difference signals heart problem


 

An abnormal difference between blood pressure (BP) measurements of the two arms may be a sign of hidden vascular disease and a higher risk of death.
A British review of 28 blood pressure studies provided significant evidence that measuring blood pressure in both arms should become a routine medical exam.

Findings showed that the high blood pressure difference was tied to higher risk of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), the narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet, and cerebrovascular disease, which affects the blood supply to the brain.

Reportedly, a difference of 15mm of mercury or more between the systolic blood pressure (the first or higher number in a BP reading) of arms was associated with a 2.5-fold greater risk of PVD.

The difference of BP measurement was also found to be associated with higher cerebrovascular disease risk, which may lead to strokes, says the report in the journal Lancet.

Researchers noted that there may be a slight natural difference between BP measurements of arms but a high difference may be a sign of blood flow problem.

“By finding a difference in blood pressure between arms it is possible we could investigate potential problems at an earlier stage, even in patients who do not have high blood pressure,” said lead author Dr. Christopher Clark of the Exeter University.

“This means we can do further tests to measure the blood pressure in the legs and where there is PVD give advice on stopping smoking and lifestyle, and if necessary blood thinning drugs or statins,” he added.

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