Whether blood pressure (BP) measured at the wrist differs from blood pressure measured at the arm is not well known. The aim of this study was to compare the BP readings obtained at the arm with those obtained at the forearm and to assess whether the wrist-arm discrepancies were related to subjects' clinical characteristics.
We measured blood pressure at the forearm and at the upper arm in 85 subjects using conventional sphygmomanometry. Wrist-arm blood pressure discrepancies were assessed in relation to gender, age, body mass index, skin-fold thickness, arm size, blood pressure level, and arterial compliance measured with the HDI/Pulsewave CR-2000.
Blood pressure measured at the wrist consistently overestimated blood pressure taken at the arm with a mean (±SD) discrepancy of 8.2±9.7/9.2±6.4 mmHg. The systolic blood pressure differences were greater in men than in women (p=0.006) and, among the men, varied according to arm adiposity (positive association, p=0.01). In men, diastolic blood pressure differences correlated with diastolic blood pressure level (negative association, p=0.01). Among the women, only age (p=0.04) was a significant positive independent predictor of the wrist-arm diastolic BP differences.
These results indicate that forearm blood pressure measurement markedly overestimates upper arm blood pressure and that the between-site difference may vary from subject to subject. Wrist blood pressure measurement is not a valid alternative to traditional measurement at the arm and its use should be discouraged.