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Blood pressure checks in both arms to detect heart disease

A new study released by Lancet says checking the blood pressure in both arms could detect heart disease.
January 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A new Lancet study says checking the blood pressure in both arms could detect heart disease. The disease strikes some 81 million Americans every year, often without any symptoms.

The study found that a difference in the systolic number reading, the top number, of more than 15:

  • Shows a narrowing of arteries to the legs.
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain.
  • Heart disease.
  • A 70 percent increase in the risk of dying from either heart attack or stroke.

A cardiologist said he has long taken the blood pressure reading from both arms, and it saved the life of one of his patients.

"I found that in one arm it was very, very low, and in the other one it was normal," said Dr. Oscar Garfein from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital. "It helped me arrive at a diagnosis of a potentially lethal condition."

Many cardiologists routinely check blood pressure in both arms but it's less common during routine doctor's visits.


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