Harvard Heart Letter

Measure blood pressure in both arms

A significant difference may point to increased cardiac risk.

High blood pressure is an important risk factor for heart attack and stroke. That's why blood pressure should stay within the desired range.

But if your blood pressure is measured in only one arm, you may not be getting the full picture of your cardiovascular risk. In the May Harvard Heart Letter, we told you how a difference of 10 or more millimeters of mercury [mm Hg] points between the right and left arm could signal peripheral artery disease. Since then, another study has found that this arm-to-arm difference is also associated with an increased risk of death within 10 years.

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