Dr. Timothy Doyle of Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea Discusses Difference in Blood Pressure Arm to Arm

March 13, 2017
Overlea Personal Physicians

The next time you get your blood pressure checked, you might want it taken on both arms.

According to Mercy primary care specialist Dr. Timothy Doyle of Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea, he now routinely checks patients' blood pressure on both arms.

Researchers have found that for people over the age of 40 the difference between the two top numbers can predict your risk for heart and vascular disease.

“What they did was check blood pressures in both arms,” Dr. Doyle said. “They found that the average difference was about five millimeters, and that's in the systolic blood pressure which is the top number.

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues measured blood pressure—in both arms—in nearly 3,400 men and women age 40 or older with no signs of heart disease. The average arm-to-arm difference was about 5 points in systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading).

“But 10 percent of the patients had a difference of 10 millimeters or greater. Those patients when followed over a 13-year period had a 40 percent higher risk for developing coronary artery disease,” Dr. Doyle said.

Small differences in blood pressure readings between the right and left arm are normal. But large ones suggest the presence of artery-clogging plaque in the vessel that supplies blood to the arm with higher blood pressure. Such plaque is a signal of peripheral artery disease, which is a risk factor for clogged arteries in the brain and heart, increasing your chance for stroke.

Dr. Doyle noted that this information can help doctors manage those high-risk patients to avoid serious heart problems later on.

View Dr. Timothy Doyle of Mercy Personal Physicians at Overlea’s interview about heart disease and related issues.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: dcollins@mdmercy.com Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at www.mdmercy.com, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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