ZocdocAnswersIs it possible to estimatate blood pressure with raising the wrist?

Question

Is it possible to estimatate blood pressure with raising the wrist?

I have a question about estimating blood pressure. I was told by a medical student friend who learned in class that there is a way to estimate the blood pressure of a patient by having them raise their arm until a vein on their wrist area disappears visibly. The distance between the wrist and the heart gives some estimate of the blood pressure. Is this something that actually works? Is there a medical reference for me to learn more about this?

Answer

Unfortunately, your medical student friend is not correct. The best thing to do when it comes to blood pressure concerns is to visit a primary care physician. The maneuver that you have described of raising your wrist above your head and watching for a vein to change shape or visibly disappear does not help in estimating your systemic blood pressure. This is because these veins, while responsive to pressures, do not estimate the pressures within the arterial system which is a different set of vessels. The arterial system which is the most important system when it comes to blood pressure is found deeper within the tissues. These veins cannot be seen with the naked eye, and they do not change their shape with arm position. If you are concerned about your blood pressure, or you or a family member have had high blood pressure in the past, I would suggest scheduling appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss what blood pressure is safe and what your target blood pressure should be. In addition, you can discuss with the new recommendations are in terms of blood pressure management based on the new recommendation JNC 8. This is a document that is fresh off the press and provides doctors with a new set of guidelines on how to manage high blood pressure. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.