It may be a good idea to get a blood pressure reading in both arms rather than just one. A new study suggests a difference in those readings is an independent risk factor for heart disease, The New York Times
Researchers examined 3,390 people 40 or older without cardiovascular disease and tracked them for an average of more than 13 years. During that time, nearly 600 had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problems. More than a quarter of those had a difference in systolic blood pressure, the upper number in a blood pressure reading, of 10 or greater between one arm and the other.
The study, published in The American Journal of Medicine, found that a difference of 10 or more between the two readings increased the risk for a cardiac event by about 38 percent. The increase was independent of age, cholesterol, body mass index, hypertension, and other risk factors.
Lead researcher Ido Weinberg, M.D., an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, advised: "Relax before your blood pressure is taken. And have a measurement with several repetitions in each arm to see if there’s a difference."