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High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure in both arms

09/04/2007

Question:

I have my blood pressure checked with my family doctor every two months and it is always in my left arm. Since I have been on two medications for high blood pressure it has been 130/80. But when I get it checked at my rheumatolgist clinic it is 140/80 to 140/90 in my right arm. She takes it opposite to what every hand your are so I am left handed. Is it normal to be that much of a difference in both arms? Should it be taken in my right arm because I an left handed? Which one should I go by?

Answer:

In most people, the blood pressure is slightly different between both arms.  Although there is considerable variability, in the majority of people the blood pressure is higher in the right arm, by an average of about 6/5 mmHg.  Differences of up to 10 mmHg are generally harmless.

One should always use the arm with the higher pressures (in your case the right arm), to measure and treat hypertension.  The goal of therapy should be 130/80 or lower.

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Go to the High Blood Pressure health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati