Several guidelines call for blood pressure (BP) measurement on a bare arm, which is not always easy. This systematic review aims to synthesize existing evidence concerning the effect of a sleeve on BP measurement.
Pubmed and Embase were searched for cross-sectional studies comparing BP values measured on a bare arm, over a sleeve or below a rolled-up sleeve. A meta-analysis was conducted on available data.
Thirteen articles were selected from 720 references. All studies reported office BP values, 12 compared measurements on a bare arm and on a sleeve, and four also performed measurements below a rolled-up sleeve, with heterogeneous sleeve types and thicknesses. Most studies had a high risk of bias. Three studies showed a small overestimation of BP measured over a sleeve, but the remaining 10 studies did not find statistically significant differences between measurements. Meta-analysis showed a nonsignificant 0.59 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI) −0.11 to +1.30; P = 0.10] overestimation of SBP measured over a sleeve when the thinnest sleeve was considered for studies that investigated various thicknesses, a nonsignificant 1.10 mmHg (95% CI −0.21 to +2.40; P = 0.10) overestimation of SBP when the thickest sleeve was considered, and a nonsignificant 2.76 mmHg (95% CI −0.96 to +6.47; P = 0.15) overestimation of SBP measured below a rolled-up sleeve.
Measuring BP over a thick sleeve in the office may result in a small overestimation of recorded values but measuring over a thin sleeve does not appear to have a significant impact and, in any case, should be preferred to rolling it up.