Report: Try both arms when measuring blood pressure

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Report: Try both arms when measuring blood pressure
Report: Try both arms when measuring blood pressure
Taking a resident's blood pressure is such a routine task that most nurses never give the protocol a second thought. New research, however, suggests that it might be time to shake up things.

After reviewing 28 different studies on the subject, a team of British researchers concluded that checking the blood pressure of both of a person's arms should be standard.

“Traditionally, most people just check blood pressure in one arm, but if there is a difference, then one of the arteries has disease in it,” cardiologist William O'Neill, M.D., told HealthDay News.

The arteries that run underneath the collarbone can easily become blocked in the bodies of smokers and diabetics. If a blockage occurs only on one side, the only way to detect it is by checking the blood pressure on both arms, experts suggest.

They say that it doesn't matter which arm has the higher or lower pressure.

“Our findings suggest that a difference in [systolic blood pressure] of 10 mm Hg or more, or 15 mm [millimeters of mercury] Hg or more, between arms could identify patients at high risk of asymptomatic peripheral vascular disease and mortality who might benefit from further assessment,” the investigators wrote. “Findings from our study should be incorporated into future guidelines for hypertension [high blood pressure] and blood pressure measurement.”
The study was published online in The Lancet.