Big difference between arms’ blood pressure readings?

blood pressure checkIt’s par for the course to sit down at your health-care provider’s office and have your blood pressure checked in one arm. But you might want to have a reading taken on that other arm, too, if you want an early warning on cardiovascular disease. In a study that supports previous findings, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital measured blood pressure in both arms of almost 3,400 men and women ages 40 and older who had no signs of heart disease. While the average difference between the two arms was about five points in the top (systolic) number, about 10 percent of participants had a difference of 10 points or more. Such differences can signal the presence of artery plaque and peripheral artery disease. Indeed, these individuals, the study found, were almost 40 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other heart problem over 13 years of follow-up than those who had a difference of less than 10 points. The study appeared recently in the American Journal of Medicine.