Harvard Heart Letter

Measure blood pressure in both arms

A big gap between the two readings suggests a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

If your health care provider measures your blood pressure in only one arm, you might be missing some vital information. A big difference between the right and left arm—more than 10 or more millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)—could be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease.

"Ask your primary care clinician about taking a baseline blood pressure reading in both of your arms. These findings might provide information about your risk of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Christopher O'Donnell, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Framingham Heart Study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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