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Thursday 22nd August 2019

Blood pressure should be taken from both arms

30th January 2012

A study review published in the Lancet has said blood pressure readings should be taken from both the left and right arms in order to assess any difference between the two.


The researchers said a significant difference between the two readings could show a raised danger of blood vessel and vein disease, and death.

The team, from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, looked at 28 previous studies for their review.

Around one third of the people in the studies had "normal" levels of risk and the rest had a higher than average level of blood pressure risk.

The latest review found that people who showed a variation in systolic blood pressure of 10 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) between their right and left arms could be identified as having an increased danger of asymptomatic peripheral vascular disease. 

The researchers added that a variation of 15mg Hg could also indicate a higher danger of cerebrovascular disease, a 70% higher danger of cardiovascular death and 60% increased risk of mortality from "all causes".

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) causes the arteries that transport blood to the legs and feet to narrow and harden.

Although guidance advises doctors to take blood pressure readings from both arms, Dr Clark said "surveys have shown the average GP doesn't do it." 

Professor Richard J McManus, from the department of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford and Professor Jonathan Mant, from the department of public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge, said: "Further research is needed to clarify whether substantial differences between arms should prompt aggressive management of cardiovascular risk factors."

"Ascertainment of differences should become part of routine care, as opposed to a guideline recommendation that is mostly ignored." 


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