When it comes to blood pressure cuffs, size matters.

Researchers measured the mid-upper arm circumference of 195 adults to see if it was the right size for a small cuff (20 to 25 centimeters), a regular cuff (25.1 to 32 cm), a large cuff (32.1 to 40 cm), or an extra-large cuff (40.1 to 55 cm). Then they used an automatic device to measure each person’s pressure three times using different cuff sizes.

People who required a small cuff registered a 3.6 point lower systolic blood pressure when measured with a regular cuff. Those who needed a large cuff showed a 4.8 point higher pressure using a regular cuff. And people who needed an extra-large cuff showed a 19.5 point higher pressure using a regular cuff.

What to do 

Make sure your doctor’s office uses the correct size cuff for your arm. (To convert centimeters to inches, divide by 2.5.) For more on how to get an accurate blood pressure reading, check out More people have hypertension, say the latest guidelines.

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