Large (I think) varying blood pressure between arms?

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Hi. I'm 24. Overweight. No exercise. I live a very unhealthy lifestyle which I intend on changing ASAP.

Anyway, I have recently been monitoring my blood pressure. My left arm is usually between 130 to 135 over 80 to 85. Right arm is 140 to 145 over 88 to 94. I sit in the exact same position in the exact same conditions. Perfect posture, cuff level with heart, rested for 5 minutes etc.

I use an Omron M3. These are always my first readings. If I wait a minute and do it again, they usually level out but sometimes they don't. I've read conflicting information on this. Some say to take 3 readings then use the average, while others say the first reading is your true blood pressure as it takes a while for the blood vessels to recover which will give lower readings.

I'd really appreciate any insight or advice.

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  • Posted

    I wouldn't worry too much about that degree of difference between arms, especially if it evens out on successive readings.

    I would, however, worry about the lifestyle! You're getting away with it at the moment because of your youth, but I'm afraid that won't last much longer.

    Why not start changing your lifestyle now, instead of ASAP. I'm sure you know which road it is that's paved with good intentions.

    You don't have to go to a dietitian or take out gym membership to improve your lifestyle. You can start today. Cut back sharply on sugar - especially sugary drinks - reduce your intake of carbs and salt, and start eating more vegetables. And keep junk food and takeaways for special treats instead of every day. Start walking instead of driving where possible, taking the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) and if you use public transport get off a couple of stops before your destination.

    If you're a smoker, start reducing. I realise that's the hardest part of lifestyle improvement but even if you can only make a small improvement there, you'll still benefit from the easier dietary and exercise measures.

    Improving your lifestyle is as easy as that if you really want to do it.

     

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  • Posted

    Hi chris13528...The first reading is NOT the true bp reading at all..not at all.

    The 3 readings then using the average is the correct way to do it. Take the 3 readings each about 2min to 5min. apart. I for one will not sit & wait 5min. between readings. 2 is quite sufficient. After the 3 readings, average them. This is your true reading. 

    You're using a good quality monitor. I'm curious as to 'why' you're taking bp readings in each arm. It's not necessary. The correct way unless you've had surgery in the left arm, is to take the readings in the LEFT arm. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, your back firmly supported in the chair. Be sure to apply the cuff about 1/2" above the bend in your arm with the cord going down into a straight line 'til it mees your middle finger. Check to be sure the cuff is tight enough...in other words if you can fit two fingers comfortably in the top of the cuff..all is good.

    Also be sure the cuff is level with your heart. Rest your arm on a flat surface, palm UP. Again, have the arm so the cuff is level with your heart. Then do the readings. Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Why is the first reading always higher then? Sometimes it's a lot higher for me, it can go from 145/95 to 135/88 within minutes. The theory about blood vessels not being fully recovered makes sense.

      I've also read that it can be important to take readings from both arms and more doctors are starting to do so. Maybe it's just misinformation on the internet, I don't know.

      Thanks for the reply!

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    • Posted

      Chris13528..Likely the first reading is higher because you've been moving around& the body isn't as relaxed as it could be, & there's always anticipation as to what the readings might be. Why we wait a few minutes between readings is to let the brachial artery relax back to its natural state. 

      My doctor never takes readings from both arms..just one. A renal specialist may take readings from both but there's a reason for doing so. 

      Do yourself the greatest of favours & don't put too much stock into what you read on the internet. You can get outdated or incorrect information from it. 

      Now you did say about your bp going from 145/95 to 135/88 within minutes. BP fluctuates several times. It can depend on what's going on in your mind or whatever. BP never stays at the same reading throughout the day. Like I said..it fluctuates.

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    • Posted

      Chris, I hate to scold but I think you're getting sidetracked with all this obsessing over small variations in BP, which arm to take it on etc. Your BP is quite normal, whichever way you look at it. As long as you're not addressing your poor lifestyle, agonising over the minor details of BP measurement is a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic!

      Much better to start addressing this right now to keep your BP normal. At the age of 24 your body still has to last a very long time. Try and get it healthy now, while you still can. At your age taking your BP once every three months is quite sufficient as long as you're feeling OK.

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    • Posted

      LOL.  'White coat syndrome' in your own home.  I try to relax, visualise my favourite walk etc. and not look at the monitor until the reading has been taken and I hear the 'hiss' as the pressure is released.

      Always higher on reading 1, then usually much lower 4-5 minutes later on reading 2. 

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  • Posted

    It is normal for different readings in left versus right arm. When I am standing my BP is even higher. If you go on a plant based diet you will lose weight and your BP should be lower.

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  • Posted

    Hi Chris,

    What Mike says is correct.  It's unnecessary to take BP readings in both arms.  The left arm is preferred.  My left arm readings are always lower than my right arm readings.  My second reading is always lower than the first one.  I rarely take a third reading unless I've had a coughing spell in the middle of a reading - which seems to 'mess up' the reading.

    I'm age 70 and last year I started the 8 week blood sugar diet to lose weight.  It's mostly to help people who have Type 2 diabetes - to reduce their blood sugar levels.  I don't have Type 2 Diabetes, but I wanted a sensible, quick way to lose weight and eat a healthier diet.  The main benefit I found, almost a side benefit, was that my BP reduced to such an extent that I no longer take BP medication.  I did talk with my GP before deciding to stop taking the BP meds.

    I've kept the weight off and I'm still reducing it - I'm now slightly overweight and almost into the 'normal' BMI range.  Previously I was well into the obese BMI range.  And my BP is still within the normal range.

    Dr Rangan Chatterjee has some good advice on healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle on his Facebook page - he is the doctor from the BBC1 TV 'Doctor in the House' programmes. 

         

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    • Posted

      Interested to read how the blood sugar diet reduced your BP. By how much and what was it before and now? I see Michael Moseley has done research into that.

       I had an NHS health check 4 years ago and was found to have high BP and the blood sugar was rather iffy too as well as the cholesterol.  I thought I led a healthy active lifestyle and always cooked from scratch so was very cross at the patronising attitude of the nurse "Well you are 70 now" as if I was ready to be shunted into a care home!

      It was a wake up call: I took myself in hand though and followed Michael Moseley's 5-2 diet. I'd been a yo-yo dieter for 40 years and lost stones with weight watchers - always the same ones! - then I realised that WW was a con and made you obsess about food. Now I eat normally and healthily,  exercise more, and lost over 3 stone and now have a BMI of <19. I never have sugar highs and lows now and have never felt better. It has fluctuated very little in 4.5 years.

      However I was bullied [IMO] into taking medication for the BP  - Losartan 50 mg -and it does fluctuate quite dramatically from sys.100 to sometimes over 150.  However it always averages over a week within 120 to 130. likewise the diastolic is OK. I take it twice a day and the morning is ususally higher, that's normal I think. It's the way it can go in waves of high and low without any real reason that  I can see. I think perhaps I shouldn't be taking it every day as I do and just take it before going to the 6 monthly check.  If I didn't take it at all I know it would be sky high in the surgery, it always is. i so would like to come off meds altogether and 'Just taking one tablet daily'  as I do doesn't mollify me - I hate drugs of any sort. I keep thinking i might cut my pills in half and see how i get on taking just 25mg.

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    • Posted

      When originally I was diagnosed with high BP it was 169/83 and GP tried various meds until I found one that suited me and worked.  The last med was Lisinopril 2.5 mg.  I noticed the big drop in BP whilst on the 8WBSD and was out walking on day 4 and I felt very dizzy and had to return home before I completed my walk.  I took my BP and it was in the low BP range.  So I stopped taking my med, and consulted my GP a few weeks later.

      The 8WBSD is based on research carried out on Type2 Diabetes by Prof Roy Taylor and his research team at Newcastle University.   I emailed Prof Taylor about my drop in BP readings and he replied that lower BP was one of the things their research had revealed whilst researching T2D.   Much of their results formed the basis of Dr Michael Moseley's book.  If I recall, the 8WBSD book mentions that an effect of the diet may be lower BP, and that people may need to consult their GP about stopping or reducing their BP meds.  I tried the 5:2 fast diet but it was a bit too slow for me.  The 8WBSD worked much better. 

      I haven't kept strictly to the diet in recent months - eating too much sugar and the wrong carbs.  However, I took my BP in the morning two days ago and it was 124/74 - so I was quite happy with that - age 70.   On the diet it averaged 116/69.  I usually check my BP once a month 'just in case'.  HTH 

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    • Posted

      Hi Jane,

      Congratulations on the weight loss!

      However, are you sure a BMI of <19 is OK at your age? I suppose these things vary from one country to another (and I'm guessing you're in the UK) but where I live the general view is that BMI in the over-70s ideally shouldn't drop below 22. In fact I've recently been told by two doctors that at my age (73) it's even OK to go slightly into the overweight range, as long as I stay below 26. I'm currently at a steady 24.5 and plan to keep it that way, but it's reassuring to know I can put on a small amount of weight without any dire consequences.

      The main concern is fractures due to increased risk of falls and lower bone density. My GP says that fat generates oestrogen-like substances (in both sexes) that offer some protection against osteoporosis. Plus the fact we're more likely to bounce if we're carrying a bit of fat! Obviously this advantage is lost if people tip over into obesity or major overweight as this will in itself put more strain on the skeleton.

      My GP says another concern is that older people - especially the over-75s - can easily lose weight in the course of a relatively minor illness, and it's useful to have a small reserve.

      Totally agree about yoyo dieting. I did that for years, with the same results as you. I never went to WW and certainly didn't go on faddy diets, I just cut calories very strictly at the outset of each period of dieting to achieve the "burn" that WW goes on about. The result in my case was that as soon as I increased my calorie intake after the "burn" period I immediately ballooned to a higher weight than where I'd started out!

      I don't see why you shouldn't try reducing the dose of Losartan as long as you don't stop it abruptly. (I'm a former nurse btw.) It's clear from your post that you have a home monitor, so you'd be able to keep tabs on your blood pressure.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the reply.

      Interesting re. the 8WBSD and the side effect of lower BP. I'd read about the diet and how it affected T2DM so lower BP makes it doubly interesting.  I think Michael Moseley serialised the diet a few months ago in the Daily Mail. Currently [this week] he is serialising a healthy gut diet. It seems he experiments on himself !

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    • Posted

      Thanks Lily for the reply.  Interesting that you say a BMI of below 19 is too low.  i actually feel so well and have bags of energy and manage to do all I want to do.  I prefer to keep it that way for as much as anything because i have osteoarthritis in one knee and exercise and keeping weight off  keeps it at bay. I weigh just under 9 stone and am 172 cm tall and take a size 8 or 10 dress - I'm very happy with that.

       Other than gardening I walk daily with the dog for at least 3/4 hour so although that didn't help me lose weight it certainly has helped to keep it off.

      I think I might try cutting my Losartan in half and see how it goes. i wonder how long I need to do that to see any effect. I'm guessing up to a month?

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    • Posted

      Hi Jane,

      I'm not totally up on recent BP medications, but in most cases changing the dose tends to show a fairly rapid result. I've just checked on-line and I see that losartan has a very short half-life - just a few hours - so I would imagine you'd start seeing a rise in your BP after a week at most if there's going to be one, and probably less than that.

      Since it doesn't sound from what you say as if your BP has ever been dangerously high, I can't see how you'd be taking any risks in reducing the dose. One thing you shouldn't do is change it up and down from day to day in response to your BP, but I'm sure you already know that. If you felt you needed to go back up to 50mg after a fair trial of 25mg that would be OK too.

      Exercise seems to be the most important factor in keeping my weight down. I too walk for at least an hour at least four times a week, as well as doing an exercise session at home every afternoon. I use MM's system, detailed in another TV programme, of eight short periods of brisk aerobic exercise (running on the spot in my case) interspersed each time with a rest period half the length of the exercise period.

      This was working very well till I was suddenly struck down with an attack of benign positional vertigo in the first few days of this year. (That's the one where the crystals in your inner ear get displaced and start sending wrong signals to your brain.) Having put on a kilo or so over the holiday period - like most of us I guess - I was expecting to take it off again with no problems, as I do every year. Unfortunately, vertigo doesn't lend itself to any kind of jumping about - too much risk of tilting your head into the wrong position and having the giant pull the ground from under your feet again. My walking also had to be somewhat curtailed due to the constant feeling of being on a moving boat - some days I was staggering along like a drunken sailor! I got the vertigo fixed by a wonderful physiotherapist after about 10 weeks and have been building up my exercise levels again since then, but I'm still 3kg heavier than I was six months ago!

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