New research published in the  American Journal of Medicine suggests that there is an association between significant difference in interarm systolic blood pressure and an increased risk of future cardiovascular events. The findings have prompted the researchers to recommend expanded clinical use of interarm blood pressure measurement.

A possible link between interarm blood pressure difference (defined as ≥10mmHg) and cardiovascular risk has been suspected for some time, but until now little data existed to support the hypothesis.

This new study examined 3,390 participants aged 40 years and older from the Framingham Heart Study. All subjects were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline, but investigators found that participants with higher interarm systolic blood pressure differences – approximately 10% of the study population – were at a much higher risk for future cardiovascular events than those with less than a 10mmHg difference between arms.

The researchers also found that participants with elevated interarm blood pressure difference tended to be older, had a greater prevalence of diabetes mellitus, higher systolic blood pressure, and a higher total cholesterol level.

The investigators say their findings suggest that practitioners should consider including blood pressure readings in both arms in order to get the most accurate readings possible and detect any differences in interarm blood pressure.

“Even modest differences in clinically measured systolic blood pressures in the upper extremities reflect an increase in cardiovascular risk,” said lead investigator Dr Ido Weinberg.

“This study supports the potential value of identifying the interarm systolic blood pressure difference as a simple clinical indicator of increased cardiovascular risk.”

Reference: www.amjmed.com/article/PIIS0002934313009728/fulltext