Are you measuring blood pressure correctly? Avoid this mistake to protect your heart health
(NaturalHealth365) We’ve all had the experience of going to the doctor for an annual check-up. One of the first things your nurse or doctor will do is check your blood pressure – and for good reason.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is correlated with an increased risk of death from conditions, including heart attack and stroke. Incredibly, someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds!
New research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) should inspire you to ask your doctor to check blood pressure from both your arms the next time you’re in their office.
“The 2-arm check” is very important for the future health of your cardiovascular system
Internationally-recognized cardiovascular guidelines currently recommend checking a person’s blood pressure using the right and left arm. However, research indicates this isn’t always done, perhaps due to perceived time constraints. The new study in question, based out of the University of Exeter, strongly indicates that the two-arm check should become standard procedure.
For their study, researchers compiled and systematically analyzed data from 24 other studies with a combined total of 54,000 patients. After analyzing medical records, the researchers confirmed an important finding:
The greater the difference in blood pressure from the right and left arm, the greater the risk of death and overall health complications from cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack. Even just 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) difference between a person’s two arms indicated increased cardiovascular risk.
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Researchers say that healthcare providers may screen more effectively by taking the time to check patients’ blood pressure from the right and left arms. Data also suggests that using both arms may help doctors identify people at risk of serious cardiovascular issues and initiate preventive measures sooner.
So, don’t be shy about asking your provider to take the extra few minutes and do the same for you.
5 interesting facts you may NOT know about blood pressure
Ever wondered exactly what those two numbers meant from your blood pressure reading? The top number is called your systolic blood pressure; this is how much pressure is inside your arteries when your heart muscle contracts and squeezes blood out. The bottom number is called your diastolic blood pressure; this is how much force is inside your arteries when your heart muscle relaxes and fills with blood.
The “textbook” healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg. At or below this number is considered normal, while 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered hypertension, which damages the heart and blood vessels.
Meanwhile, anywhere between 120 to 139 for systolic and 80 to 90 for diastolic is known as “pre-hypertension.” Consider it a warning flag – at this level, you’re on your way to hypertension unless you make some important lifestyle changes (not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating nutrient-dense organic foods, and managing stress levels are top priorities).
Curious for more? Check out these 5 additional facts:
- 1 in 3 American adults has hypertension.
- The most common symptom of the condition? NO symptoms. That’s why it’s called the “silent killer,” because problems often don’t show up until potentially serious damage has already happened.
- The major risk factors for hypertension include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, advancing age, a family history, a low-quality diet (including an excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine, and sodium), and being of African-American descent.
- If you took all your blood vessels – including veins, arteries, and capillaries – and laid them end to end, they would cover a distance of roughly 100,000 miles! That’s a LOT of circulatory health to care about!
- The device (cuff with a pump) used to check a person’s blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer.
Sources for this article include: