How to measure blood pressure correctly
Blood pressure should always be measured in both arms. The subsequent selection of the highest measured value makes the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure much more precise, so that better protection against secondary diseases is possible!
A new study involving experts from the University of Exeter used data from 23 previous studies to examine the association of higher or lower blood pressure readings in the measuring arm with cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality combined and cardiovascular events. The results were published in the journal Hypertension.
How to measure blood pressure?
For the current study, data from a total of 53,172 participants from 23 different studies were analyzed. The team wanted to know what the effect was of considering the upper or lower value when measuring blood pressure in both arms.
In their study, the researchers found that using the higher blood pressure on the arm meant that twelve percent more of those examined were classified as having high blood pressure.
However, if the lower reading on the arm is used to measure blood pressure, it would be below the diagnostic threshold for high blood pressure, experts report.
The team found that the measurement on the arm with the higher blood pressure, compared to the measurement on the arm with the lower blood pressure, caused their systolic blood pressure to be reassessed from less to more than 130 mm Hg. in 6,572 (12.4 percent) of participants and in 6,339 (11.9 percent) an increase from less to more than 140 mm Hg.
The researchers point out that these participants were all above commonly used diagnostic thresholds for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure can be deadly
“High blood pressure is a global problem and the wrong treatment can be fatal. This study shows that not measuring both arms and using the larger measuring arm not only leads to underdiagnosis and undertreatment of hypertension, but also underestimates the risk cardiovascular disease for millions of people around the world,” study author Dr. Christopher Clark said in a press release.
"It's impossible to predict the best arm for measuring blood pressure because some people have a higher reading on the left arm than the right, and just as many have the opposite," Dr. Clark said.
Always examine both arms when measuring blood pressure
Therefore, according to the doctor, it is important that both arms are examined. This allows for the correct diagnosis of hypertension, which is an important step in providing the right treatment to those affected.
“Our study now provides the first evidence that higher blood pressure in the measuring arm is a better predictor of future cardiovascular risk,” adds the expert.
More accurate prediction of possible mortality
Experts also found that higher blood pressure readings in the arm were better predictors of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular events than the arm with the lowest readings.
What do the international guidelines for blood pressure measurement say?
In any case, international guidelines recommend measuring blood pressure on both arms. In practice, however, blood pressure is often only measured on one arm, the team complains.
Experts expressly point out that it is very important to measure the values on both arms when diagnosing and treating high blood pressure, also to prevent other cardiovascular diseases.
High blood pressure leads to cardiovascular disease
The link between high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease is undisputed. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), high blood pressure (hypertension) can trigger cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
Each year, approximately 9.4 million people worldwide die from causes that can be attributed to high blood pressure. This makes hypertension the single most important modifiable risk factor for mortality and underscores the importance of measuring blood pressure correctly.
A healthy lifestyle prevents high blood pressure
In order to avoid the development of high blood pressure, you should pay attention to sufficient physical activity, a healthy body weight, a healthy diet, avoiding stress and reducing your own alcohol consumption, advise the RKI experts. (as)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Christopher E Clark, Fiona C Warren, Kate Boddy, Sinéad TJ McDonagh, Sarah F Moore, et al. : Upper arm versus lower arm systolic blood pressure and cardiovascular outcomes: a meta-analysis of individual participant data from the INTERPRESS-IPD collaboration; in: Hypertension (published 08/02/2022), HypertensionUniversity of Exeter: How Measuring blood pressure in both arms can help reduce cardio-vascular risk and hypertension (published 08/04/2022), University of ExeterRobert Koch Institute: Hypertonia (consulted on 08/04/2022), RKI
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.