Blood Pressure Provides New Heart Disease Clue

A difference in blood pressure between one arm and the other that varies by more than 10 indicates a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Journal of Medicine. A recent study in the journal said that potential risk may show in systolic blood pressure. Also known as “the top number,” systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (contracts).

A difference in blood pressure between one arm and the other can signify a buildup of arterial plaque (atherosclerosis). Plaque buildup causes blockages, which decrease blood flow and change blood pressure. A blood pressure difference between arms would not only help identify blockage in an upper extremity, but would also indicate the need to screen other areas of the body for blockages.

Results of atherosclerosis (or peripheral artery disease, which is a result of atherosclerosis) can range from leg pain while walking to amputation due to leg-artery blockages. With diagnosis, a clinician can use a variety of measures to decrease the risk of future cardiovascular events.

Besides checking blood pressure in both arms and careful physical examination, a number of basic tests can also help guide a clinician to diagnosis and a treatment plan. Anyone 65 and up should undergo screening for peripheral artery disease (50 and up with risk factors).

Find out about North Shore-LIJ’s Cardiovascular Services by calling 855-HEART-11 (855-432-7811).

This post was written by Puneet Gandotra, MD, cardiologist at Southside Hospital.

For more North Shore-LIJ Health Blog posts, go to http://blog.northshorelij.com/ 

Contents of the health blog are the property of North Shore-LIJ Health System and are provided as a health resource for consumers, health care professionals and members of the media. The medical content on the North Shore-LIJ Health Blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consultation with your physician regarding diagnosis, treatment or any other form of specific medical advice. These materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "North Shore-LIJ Health System," "North Shore-LIJ," "northshorelij.com," "VivoHealth," their related entities and logos are trademarks of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Copyright © 2011 North Shore-LIJ Health System. All rights reserved.

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