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Arm position and blood pressure: an audit

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Although arm position significantly alters blood pressure, this aspect of clinical behaviour has not been evaluated. Consequently, an audit of arm position preference involving 182 clinicians including physicians, general practitioners and nurses was performed. A marked variation in standing and sitting arm position preference, both between and within the three groups, was recorded, although approximately two-thirds of clinicians preferred the same arm position in the standing and sitting position. In particular, only 8 and 4% of clinicians chose the horizontal arm position in sitting and standing subjects, respectively. Choosing the dependent arm is a behaviour likely to lead to the overdiagnosis of hyper¬≠tension and inappropriate treatment of hypertension because the dependent arm falsely elevates both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. These results should encourage national and international organizations to reaffirm the importance of the horizontal arm in the measurement of blood pressure. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 290−291)

Keywords: arm position; audit; blood pressure; ­hypertension

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Nephrology, John Hunter Hospital and 2: Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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