Objective: To determine the prevalence of inter-arm blood pressure differences > 10 mmHg in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) and to determine whether these differences are consistent over time.
Method: In an evaluation study of 169 DM2 patients from 5 general practices in 2003 and 2004, different methods of oscillatory measurement were used to investigate inter-arm blood pressure differences > 10 mmHg systolic or diastolic. These methods were: one measurement in each arm non-simultaneously (method A), one measurement simultaneously (B) and the mean of two simultaneous measurements (C).
Results: With method A an inter-arm blood pressure difference was found in 33% of patients. This percentage diminished to 9 with method C. In 44% (n = 7) of the patients in whom method C detected a relevant blood pressure difference, this difference was not found with method A. In 79% of patients the inter-arm blood pressure difference was not reproduced after one year.
Conclusion: In daily practice, one non-simultaneous blood pressure measurement in each arm (method A) was of little value for identification of patients with inter-arm blood pressure differences. The reproducibility was poor one year later. Bilateral blood pressure measurement is therefore of little value.