Objective: Cuff inflation at the arm is known to cause an instantaneous rise in blood pressure, which might be due to the discomfort of the procedure and might interfere with the precision of the blood pressure measurement. In this study, we compared the reactive rise in blood pressure induced by cuff inflation when the cuff was placed at the upper arm level and at the wrist.
Participants and methods: The reactive rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressure to cuff inflation was measured in 34 normotensive participants and 34 hypertensive patients. Each participant was equipped with two cuffs, one around the right upper arm (OMRON HEM-CR19, 22-32 cm) and one around the right wrist (OMRON HEM-CS 19, 17-22 cm; Omron Health Care Europe BV, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands). The cuffs were inflated in a double random order (maximal cuff pressure and position of the cuff) with two maximal cuff pressures: 180 and 240 mmHg. The cuffs were linked to an oscillometric device (OMRON HEM 907; Omron Health Care). Simultaneously, blood pressure was measured continuously at the middle finger of the left hand using photoplethysmography. Three measurements were made at each level of blood pressure at the arm and at the wrist, and the sequence of measurements was randomized.
Results: In normotensive participants, no significant difference was observed in the reactive rise in blood pressure when the cuff was inflated either at the arm or at the wrist irrespective of the level of cuff inflation. Inflating a cuff at the arm, however, induced a significantly greater rise in blood pressure than inflating it at the wrist in hypertensive participants for both systolic and diastolic pressures (P<0.01), and at both levels of cuff inflation. The blood pressure response to cuff inflation was independent of baseline blood pressure.
Conclusions: The results show that in hypertensive patients, cuff inflation at the wrist produces a smaller reactive rise in blood pressure. The difference between the arm and the wrist is independent of the patient's level of blood pressure.