ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Blood Pressure Readings Should be Taken in Both Arms

Updated on June 19, 2013

Blood pressure readings should be taken in both arms, scientists have confirmed.

In a report in the Lancet magazine, differences noted in blood pressure readings between both arms can show up problems elsewhere in the body.

While existing guidelines advise doctors to measure the readings in both arms, in practise it is seldom done.

The study carried out by Dr Christopher Clark and colleagues, from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, showed that readings with a variation of 10mm Hg of mercury were indicative of peripheral vascular disease, even in patients who showed no symptoms.

Differences of 15mm Hg in the systolic readings between arms indicated an increased risk of cerebrovascular disease, like strokes.

Not only that, but this difference also indicated a massive 70% increased risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease and a 60% increased dying from any condition

talking blood pressure
talking blood pressure | Source

The systolic readings are the top number in a blood pressure reading. They show the pressure blood is under as it is pumped through the body with each heart beat.

The lower reading is known as the diastolic reading, and it measures the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.

If doctors routinely took double arm blood pressure readings, many asymptomatic cardiovascular problems could be diagnosed early and successfully treated.

Surveys have shown that the average just GP doesn't do it," said Dr Clark.

If peripheral vascular disease was diagnosed early, before they became symptomatic, many people could avoid them developing fully, with the resultant loss of their lower limbs.

As things currently stand, peripheral vascular disease is not diagnosed and treated until the patient complains of difficulty walking.

PVD normally affects the lower limbs including the feet, and is caused by poor blood circulation to the legs.

The earliest symptoms may include cold feet in bed at night, and later, calve pain on walking even short distances.

Preventative treatment, including stopping smoking and eating more healthily is usually commenced then when it is too late.


Dr Clark is quoted as saying:

"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."

He also pointed out that the arm with the higher reading should be considered to the true blood pressure reading, which is vital to know because anyone with high blood pressure, which is considered to be 140/90 mm Hg and above, is at increased risk of cardio-vascular disease which includes strokes, hardening of the arteries and heart attacks.

If every doctor or nurse carried out blood pressure readings on both arms, instead of just the one as normally happens, then many more lives could be saved in the future through the prescribing of blood thinning drugs and statins, as well as lifestyle changes.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 

      5 years ago from Earth

      I've never heard of this. If this is true, which seems hard to believe, then they better bring two units and check each arm simultaneously. I say that, because I've seen blood pressure drop several points within just a minute or two.

    • Health Visitor profile imageAUTHOR

      Health Visitor 

      6 years ago from UK

      Obviously I was speaking generally, but no I would also not recommend taking blood pressure readings from a damaged arm. I do not understand why the blood pressure readings should be 'off' on someone with a reconstructed arm, unless it simply showed an anomaly in the blood supply. A blood clot in the arm needs specialist care. Glad you survived!

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 

      6 years ago

      I do disagree with you, but there are cases where it is not practical or prudent. I had a friend who had breast reconstruction following cancer surgery. They used muscle from her stomach to fashion a new breast. The blood pressure readings on that side where way off the mark. There are always exceptions. I once had a blood clot in one arm and they would not take a measurement on that arm.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)