Authors: Suganthi V, Navin Rajaratnam, Suzanne Maria D’cruz
Background: The prevalence of obesity is increasing in Indian youth and obesity is associated with complications like systemic hypertension. Often, due to the non-availability of appropriate sized cuffs, standard cuff bladders are used to measure blood pressure in the forearms of obese young adults. Aim: To compare the upper arm arterial blood pressure measured using an appropriate cuff with the forearm arterial blood pressure measured using a standard cuff and conventional sphygmomanometry in obese otherwise healthy first year medical students. Materials and Methods: Blood pressure was measured in 27 obese otherwise healthy first year medical students after five minutes of rest using a mercury sphygmomanometer with the subjects seated and the arm and forearm at heart level, using an appropriate sized cuff for the upper arm according to American Heart Association standards and a standard cuff for the fore arm. Results: A statistically significant difference in both systolic [t-test (paired) = -6.921; df = 26; sig = .000 (2- tailed)] and diastolic blood pressure [t-test (paired) = -8.508; df = 26; sig = .000 (2- tailed)] was found, with the blood pressure readings being higher in the forearm. The correlations between upper arm and forearm systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 0.785 (p = .000) and 0.870 (p = .000). Conclusion: Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements were significantly higher in the forearm. Further studies with larger sample size should be conducted to confirm that forearm blood pressure measurements using standard cuff bladders cannot be considered equal to upper arm measurements made using an appropriate sized cuff in all young obese individuals
Keywords: Blood pressure measurements; cuff bladders; forearm; obese; upper arm.