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Forum Name: Hypertension

Question: High Blood Pressure in Left Arm Only


 c24stephens - Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:13 pm

I was at the doctor's office yesterday for allergy problems. When the nurse took my blood pressure in my right arm, she could not find it. She tried it twice and could not find it either time. She took it in my left arm and said it was high. Is this something I should be worried about? I've never been told this before. I usually have low blood pressure. I am 41 years old and overweight. I am a little paranoid because my brother died suddenly from a heart attack 1 year ago, at the age of 41.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:43 pm

User avatar Hi there -- It's not at all unusual to have one arm be more difficult to read than the other, just for odd anatomical reasons. However, for a medical assistant to take your blood pressure, having failed on one arm, then tell you your blood pressure is "high" and walk away, well, I wouldn't put too much stock in this, especially if the doctor didn't then say anything more about it. Sounds mostly like a competence problem.

That being said, you have a right to know if your blood pressure is normal or not. Again, normal protocol calls for a second reading later in the visit if the initial one is "high", whatever that meant. Further, while I would not worry about this particular exchange (or lack of one) you do have a significant family history, which, unless it can be explained via some extraneous factor, is a risk factor on its own (your brother having died so young of a heart attack). For this reason (again, unless your brother's history includes some mitigating factor), you should have an annual cardio evaluation and be watchful about diet, exercise, etc.

I have serious doubts about your having high blood pressure. You could double check this by stopping by a local fire station or drug store (the fire station with a live EMT would be preferable to the automated BP machines in some drug stores, but may not feel as approachable) and have it checked. I'd be willing to bet the MA was simply incompetent in BP taking. If not for your family history I wouldn't even suggest the recheck, but you do deserve better service than that.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck to you.

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