GP’s advised to measure Blood Pressure in both Arms

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal shows that a large difference between the Blood Pressure measured in each arm suggests a bigger risk of premature death.

This study of 230 high blood pressure patients found those with the biggest difference in systolic pressure are more likely to die from a heart attack, stroke or other causes.

Dr Christopher Clark from the Peninsular College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter, who led the study, said the message to doctors was simple:

“Sorry guys, but you really need to follow the guidelines by measuring both arms when you’re assessing blood pressure”.

He also said that patients with high blood pressure who measure their own blood pressure should follow the same advice.

It is normal to have a small difference in blood pressure between both arms, however if this difference becomes large, it may indicate peripheral vascular disease – which is often symptomless.

As an Osteopath, I have found that a large difference in blood pressure between arms may also be found in Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Published by

David Drysdale

David Drysdale has worked as an Osteopath in the West End of Glasgow since 1996. David combines a wide range of techniques when treating a patient, ranging from Osteopathic Manipulation, Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Nutrition and Exercise. Treatments are tailored for the Patient. It is understood that some people simply do not like osteopathic manipulation, while others like Deep Tissue Massage, or benefit from Cranio-Sacral Therapy. There are different ways of treating people who are in pain, and providing the treatment that works for you is very important. Osteopathy is well known for treating Headaches, Neck & Back Pain, but many other conditions such as migraines, frozen shoulder and arthritis can all respond well to good Osteopathic treatment.

4 thoughts on “GP’s advised to measure Blood Pressure in both Arms”

  1. Hi
    I am really interested in your comment about TOS and increased BP. I have recently been diagnosed with TOS (via my Osteopath) but my Dr thinks that I have had a TIA – mostly due to very high BP and diffuse tingling/pins and needles. The stroke nurse noted a considerable difference in the BP between my arms – 26mm Hg for the systolic reading. The high BP is for the affected side, but the radial pulse is barely present on that side. The nurse also noted that the pulse at my elbow was very noisy for the affected side. Does this pattern fit with your findings?

  2. Hello,
    have had a lot of neurological problems over the last 10 years,becoming very severe over the last 3-4 years, that multiple MRI’s suggest are probably not due to cervical injury (although I do have some bulging discs), pain is not a big issue but my main problems are difficulty breathing and consistently low BP, I believe due to interference of the phrenic and possibly vagus nerves, because of the way my symptoms are exacerbated by certain movements,…my question is this, is there always a notable difference in BP between left and right arms where Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is an issue?
    Due to a history of excessive weight lifting, a series of sports injuries to my neck and shoulders , several years of working with computers and having terrible posture (rounded shoulders, forwards neck/head positioning) I believe that TOS could explain my symptoms,how they have gotten progressively worse with my sports activities and how I have gone so long without diagnosis (3-4 years), however although I have low BP, the variance between arms is slight 3/4 mg.
    As i do suffer severe stiffness in my scalene muscles and get median arm pain (heart/lungs test 100%) I feel that compression of the phrenic and or vagus are the only logical answers,my doctors seem to have given up,and seem content to let me live with it,I recently had to give up my job and am now desperate!..can you advise?

    1. Hello Mike
      I’m not really in a position to comment without examining you.
      You will not always have a variation in BP between Arms in TOS.
      There are various reasons why you can have a variation in BP between arms, and tightness in the Scalenes and/or Pectoralis Minor or Cervical Ribs are an obvious cause.
      If your breathing is dysfunctional – you could look into Buteyko Breathing .
      Sorry not to be of more help.
      kind regards

Many Thanks…………….. Davy Drysdale

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