There is increasing evidence that measuring blood pressure in both arms should become a routine part of monitoring patients with hypertension, according to UK researchers.
They warn that while national hypertension guidance recommends measurement in both arms, the practice “continues to be undertaken selectively in primary care settings”.
The researchers, from the Peninsula College of Medicine in Devon, found hypertension patients with different blood pressure readings in each arm were at a reduced chance of survival over 10 years. The findings follow a study by the same team, published earlier this year, which found different arm readings predicted reduced survival over five years.
In the latest study, they looked at 230 patients and found a difference in systolic blood pressure between arms of 10-15mmHg or more was associated with a reduction in event free survival over 10 years.
The authors said the study supported the view of “inter-arm difference as a simple indicator of increased cardiovascular risk”. Assessment of blood pressure in both arms should become a “core component” of treating patients with high blood pressure in primary care, they authors said.
British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse Maureen Talbot said: “This study supports national guidelines, which recommend that blood pressure readings are taken in both arms.
“It is normal to have a small difference in blood pressure readings between arms. However, a big difference between readings may carry risks.”