It may be a good idea to get a blood pressure reading in both arms rather than just one. A difference in those readings, a new study suggests, is an independent risk factor for heart disease.

   Using data from a large health study, researchers examined 3,390 people 40 or older who were free of cardiovascular disease, following them for an average of more than 13 years. During the study period, 598 participants had a first 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 (which is measured in millimeters of mercury), of 10 or greater between one arm and the other.

   The study, in the March issue of 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 known cardiovascular risk factors.

   The study did not include physical examinations or tests, but other studies have linked narrowing of the subclavian artery, which supplies blood to the arm, to increased differences in blood pressure between the arms.

   What to do when having your blood pressure measured? “Two things,” said the lead author, Dr. Ido Weinberg, an instructor in medicine at Harvard. “Relax before your blood pressure is taken. And have a measurement with several repetitions in each arm to see if there’s a difference.”

Πηγή: The New York Times

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