Longevity Lower When Interarm Blood Pressure Readings Don't Match

Death rate increased in patients with blood pressure readings that differ between arms

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Individuals with differing blood pressure readings in each arm appear to be at a disadvantage in surviving the next decade.

Though different readings in each arm can signify lower longevity, many doctors still do not take blood pressure readings in both arms, mostly because of the added time it takes, but also because there is little evidence to suggest it is needed.

"Take blood pressure measurements in both arms when monitoring at home."

Christopher E. Clark, lead researcher and a clinical academic fellow with the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in the United Kingdom, noted that the findings back up conclusions other investigators have found recently.

A study published in journal Lancet about six weeks ago found that patients with a difference in blood pressure readings between the right and left arms are at a greater risk of dying from heart disease.

During the current study researchers followed 230 patients with hypertension from a rural area in southwestern England beginning between 1999  and 2002. Doctors took blood pressure readings in both arms on three occasions during the 10-year study period. Of the participants, 76 experienced a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular event, and 59 died during the study.

They found that for every one mmHg difference in measurements between arms, patients were at a 9 percent increased risk of dying. Investigators concluded that an interarm difference of 10 mmHg was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events or death.

Clark also discovered that in individuals with high blood pressure, but no pre-existing cardiovascular disease, an interarm difference in systolic blood pressure suggests a level of risk equivalent to that of those with hypertension and pre-existing heart disease.

Researchers argue that taking blood pressure measurements in both arms should become a regular part of medical treatment, and subsequent treatment. In patients with existing hypertension, investigators said the dual readings should be a "core component" of treatment.

The study was published March 20 in the British Medical Journal.

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Review Date: 
March 19, 2012
Last Updated:
March 20, 2012