Recent Blog Articles
HIV rates rising: Could new forms of PrEP help?
Careful! Scary health news can be harmful to your health
Post-pandemic weight loss: There’s an app for that
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia by telemedicine: Is it as good as in-person treatment?
Prediabetes diagnosis as an older adult: What does it really mean?
Is blood sugar monitoring without diabetes worthwhile?
Large review study finds low risk of erectile dysfunction after prostate biopsy
Does exercise help protect against severe COVID-19?
A new Alzheimer’s drug has been approved. But should you take it?
Need physical therapy? 3 key questions your PT will ask
Ask the doctor: Why is my blood pressure higher in one arm than the other?
Ask the doctor
Why is my blood pressure higher in one arm than the other?
Q. I was recently admitted to the hospital in the middle of the night with chest pain. When the doctors took my blood pressure, they found that it was much lower in my right arm than in my left. They rushed me in for a CT scan, saying they were looking for a "tear." Fortunately, there wasn't one, and the next day I underwent angioplasty. What was this tear they were worried about?
A. Your doctors were worried that you might have a rip, or dissection, of your aorta, the large artery that distributes oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A tear in the inner layer of the aorta allows blood to pulse between the layers of the aorta's wall. This can cause branches of the aorta to get blocked off. One sign of aortic dissection is a difference in blood pressure readings from one side of the body to the other. This is a potentially life-threatening condition, so your doctors were wise to do the CT scan.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.