Interarm Blood Pressure Difference in People With Diabetes: Measurement and Vascular and Mortality Implications

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Differences in blood pressure between arms are associated with vascular disease and increased mortality; this has not been reported in diabetes. We explored these associations, and assessed reference standard and pragmatic measurement techniques, in people with diabetes and in nondiabetic controls.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

A prospective cohort study in Devon, England, recruited 727 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and 285 nondiabetic controls. Simultaneous repeated measurements of bilateral blood pressure were made at recruitment. Data were used to inform a pragmatic measurement strategy. Interarm differences were examined for cross-sectional associations with target organ disease and prospective mortality associations (median follow-up 52 months).

RESULTS

We found 8.6% of participants with diabetes and 2.9% of controls had systolic interarm differences ≥10 mmHg. Single pairs of blood pressure measurements had high negative predictive values (97–99%) for excluding interarm differences. Systolic interarm differences ≥10 mmHg in diabetes were associated with peripheral arterial disease (odds ratio [OR] 3.4 [95% CI 1.2–9.3]). Differences ≥15 mmHg were associated with diabetic retinopathy (OR 5.7 [1.5–21.6]) and chronic kidney disease (OR 7.0 [1.7–29.8]). Systolic interarm differences were associated prospectively with increased cardiovascular mortality: hazard ratios 3.5 (1.0–13.0) for ≥10 mmHg and 9.0 (2.0–41.0) for ≥15 mmHg.

CONCLUSIONS

Blood pressure should be measured in both arms during initial assessment in diabetes. Systolic interarm differences can be excluded with a single pair of measurements. In the population with diabetes, systolic differences may be associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

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