A new review shows that measuring your blood pressure in both arms may be the most effective way of detecting and catching a silent but really serious disease of the blood vessels. PAD, or peripheral artery disease, is a condition that involves narrowing of the arteries in the body’s extremities. The findings in the new study show that a difference in systolic blood pressure between the arms was linked to an increased risk of PAD.

Those patients who had a difference in their systolic blood pressure readings between their right or left arms of 15 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more were more than two and a half times more likely to have PAD than those patients who had a smaller difference between their arms.

Early detection of PAD is important — while the majority of cases are silent, if the condition is detected, measures can be taken to reduce mortality from related cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Christopher Clark, of Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, the study researcher, claim that the findings support the need for it to be standard procedure to take blood pressure readings in both arms. Patients at a higher risk of PAD could be detected and further tests and/or treatment could be determined to help them.

The researchers reviewed 28 studies that measured blood pressure in both arms of participants. The studies typically included patients at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers noted.

In addition to an increased risk of PAD, a 15mm Hg blood pressure difference between arms was also associated with a 70 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 60 percent increased risk of dying from any cause.

Which arm has the higher pressure can vary between individuals, but it is the size of the difference that counts, not which arm is higher and which is lower, the researchers said.

More work is needed to determine whether a substantial difference in blood pressure between arms should prompt aggressive management of cardiovascular risk factors, Richard McManus, of the University of Oxford, and Jonathan Mant, of the University of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.

“Ascertainment of differences should become part of routine care, as opposed to a guideline recommendation that is mostly ignored,” McManus and Mant wrote.

Original artcile by: MyHealthNewsDaily Staff

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