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Bp Readings - Does The Arm Matter?


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Ok, sorry to be posting like a fiend today, haven't been here in a few days.

So I've recently noticed because I usually take my bp in my right arm that my readings consistently MUCH lower in my left arm than my right. Is there any reasonable explanation for that? The reason I realized this would be if I went to take my bp in my right are and I'd get an error message (it's a CareOne machine, i get a lot of error messages for no reason). I'll go to switch to my other arm. My left arm is consistently 15-20 points lower systolic on my left arm than my right. And this doesn't just happen when I try it on my right arm first, sometimes I j ust won't be paying attention and will take my pressure with my left arm and see a number and think, this can't be right.

Anyone else noticed this, or have any idea what in the world would be causing the arm discrepancy?

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The arm discrepancy is normal. The left arm is closer to the heart than the left.

My dr suggested I always use the same arm when checking my bp at home for consistency.

there are many "minor" things that can influence one's bp that a lot of people don't really take into consideration, the arm used for reading it being only one;

pain can increase the bp by 10-30 mmHg

keeping your legs crossed by 5-10 mmHg

placing the cuff over clothing can influence the bp by +/- 10-40 mmHg

a cuff that is too small can give readings that are 10-40 mm Hg too high

talking can increase bp by 10-15 mmHg

labored breathing - 5-10 mmHg increase

a full bladder 10-15 mmHg increase

I hope this helps.


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Well I just learned something new =), I have never varied which arm I took my bp. I have always done it on my left. Today Ive been working so hard to get it above 80/50 and then I read this and tryed it on my right and its 92/60...lol I like my right arm better lol but I wonder which one is more of an accurate reading. I guess its so close it doesnt matter significantly. Thanks for the post!!

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mine are almost always identical, within 2 digits....however I did read somewhere that they should be consistant, if they are not it could indicate some obstruction or blockage. That is just what I read a while back before I was dx'd with pots and trying to figure out what was going on, I read that I needed to take it on both arms to make sure the read was more or less the same.

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"Before you begin to monitor your blood pressure at home, it's important to know that differences between left-arm and right-arm (interarm) blood pressure are common. Several studies have been done to determine what is a ‘normal’ variation between right and left arm. In general, any difference of 10 mm Hg or less is considered normal and not a cause for concern.

Since some studies showed that the average interarm systolic blood pressure difference was significantly greater in patients with known coronary artery disease, it’s a good idea to discuss differences higher than 10 mm Hg with your doctor.

When you have your blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office for the first time, it’s recommended that it be taken in both arms. But if you’re measuring your blood pressure at home, readings are often more easily taken in the non-dominant arm. If your home blood pressure readings are different from those taken in the doctor’s office, be sure to discuss this with your healthcare professional.

Many factors affect blood pressure. The fact that there are differences in right and left arm readings emphasizes the importance of measuring blood pressure in both arms initially to prevent the misdiagnosis of high blood pressure. If one arm consistently has higher blood pressure than the other, that arm should be used to measure your blood pressure."

- American Heart Association

Hope this was helpful, it was for me =))

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