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Blood pressure: Can it be higher in one arm?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 1, 2021.

Generally, a small difference in blood pressure readings between arms isn't a health concern. However, a difference of more than 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) for either your top number (systolic pressure) or bottom number (diastolic) may be a sign of blocked arteries in the arms, diabetes or other health problem.

People who repeatedly have an interarm blood pressure difference of 10 to 15 mm Hg for systolic pressure are more likely to have vascular disease. They also have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and related complications during the next 13 years.

A large difference in blood pressure measurement between your arms may be a sign of a health problem, such as:

  • Blocked arteries in your arms (peripheral artery disease)
  • Cognitive decline
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart defect

If you have a large difference in blood pressure readings between arms, talk to your doctor. If your blood pressure is higher in one arm, your doctor will probably use that arm to measure your blood pressure in the future.

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