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E. The Impact of Arm Position on Blood Pressure Readings

Narrator: This is Science Today. Studies dating back to the early 1900s had noticed the impact of arm position on blood pressure readings, but despite the fact this observation had been made, most studies do not stipulate position of the arm in their methodologies. Dr. David Guss, Director of Emergency Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, recently found arm position does matter when taking blood pressure readings.

Guss: We analyzed our data and lo and behold, we found that there was a very significant difference between the blood pressure measured with the arm at the side as compared with the arm perpendicular generally 10 to 15 percent difference in the actual mean value.

Narrator: Guss says this is important to note especially in the emergency department setting, where a patient's blood pressure is repeatedly measured.

Guss: We should pay careful attention to making sure that the arm is in the same position from measurement to measurement, so that any changes that we are encountering are due to a change in the patient's physiology, rather than in the position of the arm.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.