You are here

Study highlights importance of using both arms for blood pressure

Study highlights importance of using both arms for blood pressure
15th April 2016

New research has highlighted the importance of using both arms when taking blood pressure.

The study from the University of Exeter Medical School revealed that taking samples from both the right and left arm gave the most accurate findings.

Published in the British Journal of General Practice, the analysis looked at more than 3,000 people in Scotland who had blood pressure measurements taken from both arms.

It is some of the first research to focus on people who had been identified as having a greater risk of heart disease or hypertension, rather than looking at those who have already developed these problems.

All of the participants included in the study were considered healthy but were deemed to be at a high risk of having heart disease in the future.

Dr Chris Clark, a GP and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, said current guidelines state that blood pressure should be measured in both arms when assessing patients for hypertension, but this advice is sometimes not followed because of a lack of awareness or time.

He explained: "For accuracy, to overcome natural blood pressure fluctuations, it is important to test both arms simultaneously to confirm any difference."

The team found that participants who had a significantly different blood pressure in each arm were at almost double the risk of death from heart-related disease.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Differences in blood pressure between arms has previously been linked with an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in those that already have the condition or are at very high risk."

However, he said that this study found that healthy people without pre-existing heart disease could also be at an increased risk.

"The findings support current guidance that blood pressure should be measured in both arms when assessing someone for hypertension," Professor Pearson added.

Find the nearest Barchester care home.