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Position Counts

Where your arm should be during a blood pressure test

(HealthDayNews) -- Next time a doctor or nurse takes your blood pressure, take a minute and check the position of your forearm. It can make a difference.

To get an accurate reading, your whole arm should be at the same level as your heart, which is about chest level. If you find yourself sitting comfortably with your forearms at about stomach level, you won't get the right reading.

The department of internal medicine at University Hospital in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, studied 69 patients, checking their blood pressure readings with arms in both positions. As reported in the Journal of Human Hypertension, when the patient's arms were at stomach level, the blood pressure was always higher than when the arms were supported at chest level.

The difference was enough to make perfectly healthy patients look as if they had high blood pressure.

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