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High Blood Pressure

Different readings for each arm.



Which arm should be used to measure blood pressure? I seem to get different readings on each arm.


Blood pressure is extremely variable. Therefore, it not unusual to obtain slightly different blood pressures between arms. To establish an actual difference exists, one should take several (2-4) blood pressures in each arm and compare the averages. The blood pressure difference between the two arms should be within 4 mmHg of each other or similar to the differences between the individual blood pressures measured in the same arm. If the difference is greater, then blood pressures should always be measured in the arm with the highest readings. That is the blood pressure that one assumes the rest of the body is exposed to. Blood pressure in the arm with the lower reading may be due to a blockage in the artery of that arm. One may be born with this condition or it can be seen in patients with or at high risk for vascular disease causing the blockage (for example- cigarette smokers, diabetics, high cholesterol).

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Response by:

Jackson T Wright, MD, PhD, FACP Jackson T Wright, MD, PhD, FACP
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University