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High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease and an early death. But when doctors or other healthcare professionals measure your pressure, they’re omitting an important step that can indicate the true state of your heart health.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, >have found that the best way to measure blood pressure is to measure the pressure in both arms. Most times, unfortunately, blood pressure is taken on only one side.
If there is a significant difference between the pressures in your arms, your interarm pressure, your risk of heart problems may be significantly increased.
This study examined 3,000 people over the age of 40 who were taking part in the Framingham Heart Study. All the people were considered heart-healthy at the start of the study. The researchers discovered that those with greater interarm systolic blood pressure differences (the top number in blood pressure readings) were at a much higher risk for future heart problems than those with less than a 10 mm Hg difference between arms.
“In this large prospective, community based cohort of middle-age men and women free of cardiovascular disease, an increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference was found to be present in nearly 10 percent of individuals and is associated with increased levels of traditional cardiovascular risk factors,” says researcher Ido Weinberg, M.D. “Furthermore, an increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference is associated with an increased risk for incident cardiovascular events, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors.”