Two tips Coloradans should know about measuring blood pressure

According to information from Harvard Medical School, there are two details about measuring blood pressure everyone should know, including older adults. One, blood pressure should routinely be measured twice — once in each arm — in order to spot any potentially serious BP issue. Why? Because a significant difference in the pressure recorded in the right and left arms can signal circulatory problems that may lead to stroke, peripheral artery disease, or other cardiovascular problems. British researchers found that people with an arm-to-arm difference of 15 points or more were twice as likely to have peripheral artery disease (PAD), meaning clogged arteries in the arms, legs, or other non-heart parts of the body. PAD affects at least 12 million Americans, more than heart disease and stroke combined, and many don’t know they have it. An arm-to-arm difference in BP of even 10 points may boost your risk of heart attack by almost 40%. So feel free to ask your doctor or staff to check blood pressure in both arms.

Two, when it comes to measuring your blood pressure at home, cuff size matters. Using a “regular”-sized arm cuff with an automated device resulted in inaccurate blood pressure readings for people who needed a small, large, or extra-large-sized cuff, according to a study published online in August by JAMA Internal Medicine. Individuals needing a small cuff who used a regular-sized cuff produced an average systolic reading (the top BP number) that was 3.6 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) lower than with an appropriately sized cuff. Adults who needed a large or extra-large cuff but who used a regular-sized cuff got higher systolic readings — averaging 4.8 mm Hg and 19.5 mm Hg higher, respectively. Smaller discrepancies also occurred with diastolic readings (the bottom BP number). Advice: Bring your home BP device to your next doctor’s appointment to ensure it has the right cuff size for you.

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