Does Your Doctor Run the 30-Second Test That Could Save Your Life?

The simple test can increase your odds of stopping a heart attack before it happens.

November 30, 2017 5:00 am
blood pressure
A female doctor checks an older man's blood pressure.
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Everyone is used to the blood pressure check that is done every time you visit a doctor’s office. They put the cuff around one arm, take a reading, and then move on to your height and weight. But Incwrites that only checking the blood pressure of one arm is a huge mistake.

According to Inc., if the blood pressure readings of your two arms are different, it could signal an underlying problem that might otherwise go undetected. Most likely, there will be a slight difference between the arms, of maybe a point or two. But a difference of 10 points or more in either the “top” (systolic) number or the “bottom” (diastolic) one could be dangerous.

A difference in a young person’s readings might mean that one of your arteries is being squeezed, maybe by a muscle, writes Inc. In older people, it most likely reason is one or more of your arteries are block, which puts you at a high risk for heart disease, stroke, dementia, and other things.

Researchers in the U.K. found that a 15-point different in the top number between arms could translate into a 70 percent greater likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease, reports Inc. This was 15 years ago. Since then, some European nations and some medical organizations in the U.S. have changed their guidelines to include testing the blood pressure of both arms, but it is still pretty rare for that guideline to be followed.

So next time you visit the doctor, consider asking them to check both arms. It only takes 30 seconds, and it might matter more than you think.

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