Arm Position May Alter Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure readings taken on arms parallel to the body are up to 10 percent higher than readings taken when the elbow is at a right angle to the body with elbow flexed at heart level.

Researchers measured blood pressure in 100 emergency room patients, ages 18 to 88, who were being seen for a symptom that wasn't associated with cardiovascular instability. The patients' blood pressures were measured six times using perpendicular and parallel arm positions while laying, sitting and standing. They found that in the number of seated patients classified with high blood pressure, 22 percent had the arm perpendicular and 41 percent had the arm parallel to the body.

Researchers found that blood pressure measured with the arm perpendicular to the body was much lower than with the arm in a parallel position. This was an important finding because blood pressure readings determine certain treatment options for patients. The researchers pointed out that arm position should be consistent throughout the whole test when measuring blood pressure.

Annals of Internal Medicine January 6, 2004;140(1):74-5

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It appears that a significant amount of people may be receiving altered blood pressure readings as I posted a study in 2003 that found obese patients may be wrongly diagnosed as hypertensive because the arm cuffs used to measure their blood pressure may be the wrong size. In another previously published study, researchers found that 73 percent of health care workers failed to use proper arm positions (with slightly flexed elbow and held at heart level) and blood pressure cuff positions when taking readings.

If you are having your doctor measure your blood pressure make sure your arm is perpendicular to the body and you do not move your arm while the test is being conducted, otherwise you may get a faulty reading.

High blood pressure is a serious issue that can kill or permanently impair you, and it should not be ignored. It usually kills people slowly over time, but very high blood pressures can surely cause a stroke.

Normally, high blood pressure goes down quite quickly and easily by implementing three important factors. These include:

  • Eliminating grains and sugars as described in my Total Health Program, can lower insulin levels and stop blood pressure from going up in most people. Following the nutrition plan will normalize blood pressure in about 75 percent of people.

  • Normalizing the common stresses in your life that tend to elevate blood pressure. EFT is a simple and inexpensive tool that you can use to help in this area.

  • Getting one hour of exercise a day seems to be an important contributor to the long-term benefits of those currently suffering from high blood pressure.

Finally, another natural option is CardioEssentials, which contains nattokinase -- a powerful enzyme derived from the food natto. Nattokinase has been used successfully for circulatory problems for over two decades, and CardioEssentials can significantly restore normal blood flow that may impact blood pressure functionally in as little as seven to 10 days (so blood pressure should be carefully monitored during this time). 

You can also review Dr. Paul Rosch's recent review of blood pressure for further information.

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