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How measuring blood pressure in both arms can help reduce cardiovascular risk and hypertension

Date:
August 3, 2022
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Blood pressure should be measured in both arms and the higher reading should be adopted to improve hypertension diagnosis and management, according to a new study. The research analyzed data from 53,172 participants in 23 studies worldwide to examine the implications of choosing the higher or lower arm pressure.
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Blood pressure should be measured in both arms and the higher reading should be adopted to improve hypertension diagnosis and management, according to a new study.

The research, led by University of Exeter, analysed data from 53,172 participants in 23 studies worldwide to examine the implications of choosing the higher or lower arm pressure.

The study, published in Hypertension, found that using the higher arm blood pressure reading reclassified 12 per cent of people as having hypertension, who would have fallen below the threshold for diagnosis if the lower reading arm was used.

Although International guidelines advise checking blood pressure in both arms, the practice is currently not widely adopted in clinics.

Study lead Dr Christopher Clark, from the University of Exeter, said: "High blood pressure is a global issue and poor management can be fatal. This study shows that failure to measure both arms and use the higher reading arm will not only result in underdiagnosis and undertreatment of high blood pressure but also under-estimation of cardiovascular risks for millions of people worldwide."

The team found that using the higher arm measurement compared to using the lower arm resulted in reclassification of 6572 (12.4%) of participants' systolic blood pressures from below to above 130 mm Hg, and 6339 (11.9%) from below to above 140 mm Hg, moving them above commonly used diagnostic thresholds for hypertension.

Dr Clark continued: "It's impossible to predict the best arm for blood pressure measurement as some people have a higher reading in their left arm compared to right and equal numbers have the opposite. Therefore, it's important to check both arms as detecting high blood pressure correctly is a vital step towards giving the right treatment to the right people."

"Our study now provides the first evidence that the higher reading arm blood pressure is the better predictor of future cardiovascular risk."

The study also revealed that higher arm blood pressure readings better predicted all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular events, compared to the lower arm reading. The authors stressed the importance of assessing both arms in the diagnosis and management of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.


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Materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christopher E. Clark, Fiona C. Warren, Kate Boddy, Sinéad T.J. McDonagh, Sarah F. Moore, Maria Teresa Alzamora, Rafel Ramos Blanes, Shao-Yuan Chuang, Michael H. Criqui, Marie Dahl, Gunnar Engström, Raimund Erbel, Mark Espeland, Luigi Ferrucci, Maëlenn Guerchet, Andrew Hattersley, Carlos Lahoz, Robyn L. McClelland, Mary M. McDermott, Jackie Price, Henri E. Stoffers, Ji-Guang Wang, Jan Westerink, James White, Lyne Cloutier, Rod S. Taylor, Angela C. Shore, Richard J McManus, Victor Aboyans, John L. Campbell. Higher Arm Versus Lower Arm Systolic Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Outcomes: a Meta-Analysis of Individual Participant Data From the INTERPRESS-IPD Collaboration. Hypertension, 2022; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.121.18921

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "How measuring blood pressure in both arms can help reduce cardiovascular risk and hypertension." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220803123133.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2022, August 3). How measuring blood pressure in both arms can help reduce cardiovascular risk and hypertension. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 22, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220803123133.htm
University of Exeter. "How measuring blood pressure in both arms can help reduce cardiovascular risk and hypertension." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/08/220803123133.htm (accessed June 22, 2024).

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