The next time you get your blood pressure checked, make sure it’s measured on both arms. According to a study in The Lancet, this could save your life.
The work shows that differences in blood pressure readings between a patient’s right and left arm could be a sign of vascular disease.
The researchers reviewed 28 studies measuring differences in systolic blood pressure readings. That’s the top number in a reading. Although seemingly minor, a difference of 15 points was associated with a higher risk. The risk of peripheral vascular disease – the narrowing of arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet, was two and a half times greater. The risk of cerebrovascular disease, which affects the blood supply to the brain was 1.6 times greater. What’s even more alarming is that inconsistent blood pressure readings increased the risk of death by a whopping 70 per cent.
It’s the difference between the two measurements — not which arm is higher or lower — that counts. The authors figure that it’s a sign of the narrowing or hardening of a person’s arteries, particularly on one side of the body.
They say measuring blood pressure on both arms should be the new standard in doctors’ offices and hospitals.