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Why Is My Blood Pressure Different In Each Arm

How High Is Too High For Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure Different In Each Arm? The Meaning & Dangers Of BP Readings Different In Each Arm

Although the term labile hypertension means blood pressure that fluctuates more than usual, the term actually has no official definition. Theres no line that must be crossed no minimum blood pressure reading or number of spikes necessary to make the diagnosis.

The term simply indicates a situation where blood pressure is rising beyond whats considered normal and acceptable for an individual.

Most times, these people have reasonable blood pressure control, says Dr. Lioudis. Yet they have periods when they may experience facial flushing, tension headaches, sweating or feelings of unease. When they check their blood pressure, its high.

New Study Shows Decline In Control Of High Blood Pressure

Based on the new findings, Clark and his colleagues say that a difference of more than 10 mmHg between the two arms should be a cause for concern.

We think the difference we are measuring is caused by changes leading to stiffening of the arteries, Clark said in an email. Stiff arteries are associated with cardiovascular events and death.

While it might seem that a lower blood pressure in one arm might be good news, the opposite is true.

It is likely that meaningful differences in blood pressure between the left and right arms indicates a narrowing of major arteries due to atherosclerosis , said study co-author Dr. Mary McDermott, a professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

I Surveyed 100 People And Asked Them Did Your Doctor Ever Take Your Blood Pressure In Each Arm

Im not sure about you, but Ive never had a doctor or a nurse take my blood pressure in each arm until I started asking them to do so. Ive asked a lot of people in the past and never had anyone tell me yes. Unfortunately, I never documented my results so I dont know how many I asked or other statistics like age or medical history.

I decided to survey 100 people and asked them the following questions:

  • How old are you?
88 12%

I know 12% is not a lot but I honesty thought the amount that said yes about having their blood pressure taken in each arm would be less. But after examining the results it made sense to me because 11 of the 12 who answered yes had a cardiovascular or high blood pressure history. Only 1 out of the remaining 49 people said they had their blood pressure taken in each arm which was more like what I expected.

Of the 43 people who had a history of high blood pressure 6 of them, 14%, answered yes. Of the 8 people who had a history of cardiovascular disease 5 of them, 63%, answered yes. I wasnt surprised the people who had a history were the ones who answered yes at a higher percentage. Even though, I wish the percentage was much higher. Hopefully blog posts like this one can convince people to ask their doctors and nurses to check both arms. This way the percentages will go up which means cardiovascular problems and risks can be identified much sooner.

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Home Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure tests can also be carried out at home using your own digital blood pressure monitor.

This can give a better reflection of your blood pressure, as being tested in somewhere like a GP surgery can make you feel anxious and can affect the result. It can also allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term.

You can buy a variety of low-cost monitors so you can test your blood pressure at home or while you’re out and about.

It’s important to make sure you use equipment that has been properly tested. The British Hypertension Society has information about validated blood pressure monitors you can buy.

Blood Pressure Higher In The Left Arm

Why Blood Pressure Can Be Different In Each Arm

Higher blood pressure is more often found in the right arm. Having varying blood pressure in different arms is statistically normal and may not necessarily be a cause for concern. However, if the difference is persistent, your health care provider will use the arm with the higher blood pressure for all further blood pressure measurements.

Your health care provider might want to check for certain medical conditions if you have a blood pressure difference between your arms, particularly if its persistent and large. They might check for:

  • Coarctation of the thoracic aorta
  • Dissection of the thoracic aorta
  • Aneurysm of the aorta
  • Various kinds of extra- and intra-arterial obstruction in the upper extremities
  • Takayasu disease

These causes for a blood pressure difference between arms become more likely when the arm with the lower blood pressure also has a diminished pulse.

According to studies, people with a blood pressure difference of 15 points or more between arms are twice as likely to develop peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is when your arteries become clogged or blocked by cholesterol. It affects about 12 million people in the United States. A blood pressure difference of 10 to 15 points between arms may also raise your likelihood of dying from heart disease or getting a stroke.

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Differences In Blood Pressure Between Arms

  • Dae Hyun Kim, instructor in medicine
  • 1Division of Gerontology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02215, USA
  • dkim2bidmc.harvard.edu
  • May be diagnostically useful but needs further evaluation as a prognostic marker

    A difference in blood pressure readings between arms can be seen in congenital heart disease, aortic dissection, peripheral vascular disease, and unilateral neuromuscular abnormalities. In the absence of these conditions, any discrepancy is small .1 About 20% of patients in primary care or secondary care have a between arm blood pressure difference of 10 mm Hg or more and 4% have a difference of 20 mm Hg or more.2 Although such a difference in blood pressure is thought to be a marker of atherosclerosis,3 its clinical significance is not fully understood. In a linked research study ,4 and in a recent meta-analysis,5 Clark and colleagues provide additional evidence on the diagnostic and prognostic relevance of this phenomenon.

    In their meta-analysis of cross sectional studies,5 Clark and colleagues reported that a between arm blood pressure difference of 15 mm Hg or more was associated with peripheral vascular disease and with cerebrovascular disease , but not with coronary artery disease. A difference of 10 mm

    More From Martin Scurr For The Daily Mail

    Surgery to unblock the artery may cause damage to these smaller vessels, hence the reluctance of your doctor to operate.

    The most important point, which you have raised, is preventing further clotting elsewhere, particularly in the brain, where it would cause a stroke.

    You tell me in your letter that your doctor has prescribed clopidogrel, which works by making the blood less sticky and prevents clots forming.

    It will also stop your existing clot getting bigger.

    Do be reassured that there is no chance the clot in the subclavian artery will dislodge and move elsewhere it is not anatomically possible from that site.

    The second step in terms of preventing clots, and specifically strokes, is to keep blood pressure under control, hence your prescription of a 10mg dose of daily ramipril.;

    Regular monitoring is needed to be sure that your blood pressure keeps below the level of 140/90, and on many occasions patients need the addition of a second or even a third drug to ensure good control.

    This treatment should ensure that you have no further problems. Please be reassured that you are not the victim of a cash-saving NHS cutback.

    Also Check: What Gives You High Blood Pressure

    Why You Should Take Your Own Blood Pressure At Home Or On The Go

    Because of regular fluctuations in blood pressure, white-coat syndrome, and masked hypertension, doctors;may recommend self-monitoring for people with HBP. There are;many benefits to taking your own BP:

    • Knowing your actual, average blood pressure outside of regular fluctuations
    • Gaining more control over your blood pressure
    • Tracking your progress
    • Saving time and possibly money from frequent doctor visits and complications

    Blood Pressure Higher In Dominant Arm

    Reasons for different blood pressure in both arms – Dr. Sanjay Phutane
    vladster

    I started checking my blood presure a year ago because recently I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma, so I sometimes worry it is not asthma but something heart related. Anyway, I always used to measure my left arm at home and the blood pressure would be between 140 to 150 . I started eating a bit better and exercising and brought down my pressure to between 130-140. I was happy until I read that blood pressure should be taken on both arms and surprise, surprise my BP on right arm is 150/80.

    I was reading that having such a big difference between left and right arm is a sign of trouble. I really don’t want to go on meds, not because I don’t believe in them, but because I am scared of side effects. Docs prescribed me asthma meds which just made my asthma symptoms worse and I actually manage it with sauna and home remedies just fine. I should add that I run intensively for 5km 4-5 times a week. Occasionally eat junk food, but eat healthy too. My question is why such a big discrepency between 2 arms. If the cuff size is wrong, then; both arms should still be similar.

    Also Check: What Is Hypertensive Blood Pressure

    Latest High Blood Pressure News

    Blood pressure readings between the two arms can be different, and that disparity can sometimes be a warning sign of heart trouble down the road.

    That’s the finding of an analysis of 24 past studies: When people have at least a 5-point difference in blood pressure between the two arms, their risk of heart attack, stroke or premature death inches up. And the greater the difference, the more those risks climb.

    Experts said the findings give more support to something that’s been advocated, but not commonly done by doctors and nurses: Checking patients’ blood pressure in both arms.

    “Unfortunately, blood pressure is not routinely measured in both arms,” said Dr. Jeffrey Berger, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study. “But I think it should be.”

    Berger directs the Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at NYU Langone Health in New York City. He said he always checks blood pressure in both arms, and thinks it should be a matter of routine in all patients.

    “It’s such a simple thing to do,” Berger said.

    It’s not that the blood pressure difference, itself, is the problem. But a discrepancy between arms might be a sign of early atherosclerosis that is developing asymmetrically, Berger explained.

    Atherosclerosis refers to a hardening and narrowing in the arteries that, eventually, could lead to heart disease or stroke.

    Instead, he explained, doctors can consider between-arm differences one “marker” of a patient’s heart disease risk.

    How Can I Measure My Blood Pressure At Home

    Talk with your health care team about regularly measuring your blood pressure at home, also called self-measured blood pressure monitoring.

    SMBP means you regularly use a personal blood pressure measurement device away from a doctors office or hospitalusually at home. These blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use. A health care team member can show you how to use one if you need help.

    Evidence shows that people with high blood pressure are more likely to lower their blood pressure if they use SMBP combined with support from their health care team than if they dont use SMBP.3

    Use these additional tips for SMBP:4

    • Use a blood pressure log pdf icon;to record your blood pressure measurements.
    • Take your blood pressure at the same time every day.
    • Take at least two readings, 1 or 2 minutes apart.

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    Why Blood Pressure Can Be Different In Each Arm

    The other day, someone asked me if it mattered what arm was used to take blood pressure. This led to a whole discussion about, how come there are times when blood pressure is different in each arm? In addition, we talked about when blood pressure should be taken in each arm. I decided to wrap my arms around this topic and write everything you need to know in this blog post.

    How come blood pressure is different in each arm? A small difference of less than 10 mm HG is quite normal and nothing to worry about. A blood pressure difference of more than 10 mm Hg could indicate a blocked artery. In addition, it could indicate an increased risk of peripheral vascular disease, or narrowing of the arteries and the development of cardiovascular disease.

    As a patient, you have a certain expectation of things to expect when showing up for a doctor visit. Things like height, weight, pulse, current medications and blood pressure are normal things a nurse does. Have you ever had your blood pressure checked in both arms?

    Prior to knowing what I already know about blood pressure, it never happened to me. Now, every time Im at the doctor, I request the nurse to take my blood pressure in both arms. After you find out why in this article, I bet youre going to do the same. Checking to see if blood pressure is different in each arm is something every doctor should be doing, especially on a first visit.

    Accurate Blood Pressure Measurements And The Other Arm

    Why Is Your Blood Pressure Different in Each Arm? Flo Has ...

    When duty calls, some people are never at home.

    Anonymous

    The examiner, a nationally prominent cardiologist, began my ordeal with a simple question: What is the blood pressure in both arms of your patient?

    The scene was Charity Hospital in New Orleans, where I took my oral examination for board certification in internal medicine 51 years ago. Fortunately, I answered his question easily, because in those days, doctors routinely took their patients’ blood pressure in both arms and checked the pulses in all 4 extremities at the initial examination. It was a standard of practice.

    Some doctors tell me that they don’t have time to take their patients’ BP. Others claim that checking a patient’s BP is elementary and that practically anybody can do it. Still others, especially house officers and young private practitioners, say that questions regarding who took the patient’s BP and how it was taken virtually never came up during their training.

    I believe that our current training programs lack sufficient emphasis on basic clinical skills, including emphasis on accurate BP measurements. I also believe that a responsible doctor is never too busy to take a patient’s BP. And measuring the BP accurately is, in fact, vitally important and cannot be done by just anybody. Consider the following.

    Failure to compare the BP and pulses in both arms can have serious consequences, as the following case summary illustrates.

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    G R Parkhouse Ilfracombe Devon

    What is unclear is the cause of the blood clot in the artery in your arm

    Please do not worry. I understand your angst, but a decision as important as this will not be influenced by the budget constraints in the NHS.

    It is managers who cancel operating lists and interfere with care never clinicians, and your specialist will be focused on your best interest.;

    And, although your diagnosis can seem frightening, what is important to remember is that the blockage in your arm didnt produce any symptoms, which suggests that no further intervention was needed.

    Otherwise, your doctor would have pushed for surgery to either remove the blockage or insert a stent to open the blocked artery.

    What is unclear is the cause of the blood clot in the artery in your arm .

    This branches off the aorta, the main artery from the heart, and then runs behind the collar bone, through the armpit and into the arm.

    A blockage in this artery is usually due to trauma, such as a broken arm or collar bone, though it can also be caused by the presence of an extra rib, called a cervical rib.

    This abnormality is present from birth in one in 200 of us but, over time, it can press on the artery and cause damage, triggering a clot.

    It is easily diagnosed on X-ray, and, if there are no symptoms, we leave it alone. But if the rib is causing pain by compressing vital nerves, or affecting the functioning of the arm by pressing on a blood vessel, then surgery may be essential.

    Should The First Blood Pressure Reading Be Discarded

    If you prepared properly for your blood pressure measurements, the first reading should be undiscarded. All blood pressure readings should be recorded and shown to your physician. Blood pressure should be based on an average of readings from two or more occasions.;

    Sometimes people dont prepare properly for the first reading like skipping the five minutes of quiet time. In this situation the first reading wouldnt be a true indication and shouldnt have been taken in the first place.

    Even though youre taking two or three measurements youll probably get different blood pressure readings within minutes 4. If you followed all the steps listed above, the readings shouldnt differ too much. Record all the readings in the following manner:

    • On your monitor if it keeps a record for you.
    • On your BP phone app. My monitor connects to my phone BP app and transmits all the readings to my phone. It keeps track of the readings, dates and times. It also organizes them into handy charts and allows me to email them to my physician. I absolutely love this feature, and its included with the monitor! My monitor is made by Welch Allyn, you can read my complete, detailed review by clicking here, Welch Allyn 1700 Series Home Monitor.
    • You can also jot it down on paper or a blood pressure log. It doesnt really matter how you record them, as long as you do.

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