The difference in inter-arm systolic blood pressure - where both arms are used for BP reading - has now been linked to greater risk of future cardiovascular events.

Measuring inter-arm blood pressure involves taking two readings, one for each arm. Increased inter-arm systolic blood pressure differences are defined as 10 mmHg or greater.

"In this large community-based study, an increased inter-arm 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," explained lead investigator Ido Weinberg from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

"An increased inter-arm systolic blood pressure difference is associated with an increased risk for incident cardiovascular events, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors," he cautioned.

The researchers examined 3,390 participants aged 40 years and older, free of cardiovascular disease at baseline.

The investigators found that participants with higher inter-arm systolic blood pressure differences were at a much higher risk for future cardiovascular events than those with less than a 10mm Hg difference between arms.

The researchers also found that participants with elevated inter-arm blood pressure difference were older, had a greater prevalence of diabetes mellitus, higher systolic blood pressure and a higher total cholesterol level.

The investigators suggest doctors should consider including blood pressure readings in both arms in order to get the most accurate readings possible and detect any differences in inter-arm blood pressure.

Even modest differences in clinically-measured systolic blood pressures in the upper extremities reflect an increase in cardiovascular risk, said Weinberg in the research published in The American Journal of Medicine.

(Agencies)

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