T Nation

Arm Circumference/Blood Pressure?


Hey guys, I was just wondering what effect having a big arm has on blood pressure measurement? I by no means have a "hyooge" gun, but the standard cuff is designed for a 9-14 in arm! That's tiny!


It makes a big difference.



Pretty much all hospitals carry larger blood cuffs for people with larger arm sizes. If you're doing it at home, I'm sure you could buy a larger one. (if you have a large arm and the nurse is trying to put a standard cuff on you, I would question the competence of the workers at that hospital).


I use the leg cuff for my own measurements. Unless your arms are truly huge, I doubt it will be that difficult to find a cuff to fit you. A cuff that is too small causes a higher reading. One that is too large causes a lower reading.


Also, if you have a small arm but have convinced yourself that you are gigantic, I would question the competence of the health professional that doesn't have you committed. Flexing really hard to make your arm look bigger doesn't help either.


Thanks guys, I was wondering about this. The standard cuff I find at Wal-mart was designed for the aforementioned 9-14 inches. More than anything else I was wondering if there would be an effect, so I know to adjust my thinking, ie be consciously aware of this fact, especially as I grow and develop.


The department I work for has four different sizes in our medbags: infant, child, adult, adult large.

I'm not sure how often you need your BP taken, but it's not uncommen to have people stop in at the firestation and ask us to take their BP measurement.

Might save you from having to buy your own cuff.


Didn't Prof. X say in another thread that the average arm circumference is 15"? X, if that's the case, whey then is the blood-pressure arm cuff so small?


I don't know if Prof X said that or not but that is definitely not correct, not even for males. 15 inches is actually a decent size arm (relaxed) and most people would not have that size arm without either being kind of heavy or doing training. In the fitness world 15 inches is not that big (although not small) but remember the fitness world is a small percentage of the population. To me it is like saying the average person could bench 225 which is totally not true. The mere fact that BP cuffs in the stores go to 9-14 inches gives you an idea of what is average. If I had to guess I would say 9-10 for women and 13 for men.


If you want to keep track of your BP yourself you could get a finger cuff for less than 75 bucks. I don't know how accurate they are but you might be able to get it calibrated. I have one and my physician offered to calibrate it for me.


Would a 15 1/2 inch arm warrant the use of a bigger than usual cuff? got a bp test comin up soon.


I said that 15" is average for an ACTIVE grown man. That means someone who is not sitting around the house all day. It means someone who does some type of physical activity but does not need weights. I grew up around active people who did some type of manual labor within their life times. Not one guy in my family has arms smaller than 15" yet few of them have ever lifted weights. In other words, 15" is average for the non-sedentary male in my opinion. Some then went on about how they had people in their families who did some type of manual labor who had 13" arms or smaller. To that I replied that genetics are a factor. Guys in my neighborhood growing up wanted to be athletes. These weren't weak people and from what I've seen in the inner city, most guys aren't total weaklings unless they wanted to be ganged up on daily.

Why would you ignore the fact that I even highlighted ACTIVE in that thread and completely miss the point? Exactly how clear of a picture do I have to paint with words before people understand what is written? I was NOT speaking of sedentary people who barely leave the couch. I made it clear then and I am making clear again now.


There are clear lines on Blood pressure cuffs that inform you if you need a "large adult" cuff or not. This isn't guess work. If your arms are larger than the lines inside the cuff, then it would be common sense to even the dumbest health care professional to get a larger cuff. Small cuffs are usually made for an arm around 13" or less.


Just to clarify, is that flexed or relaxed?

And the other thing is, (directed to CaliforniaLaw) is that you should realize that an AVERAGE arm by nature includes females.

Supposing 15'' is the average for all males (which as X mentioned, it is NOT), I'm guessing the average female arm is around 9'', and since about they form 50% of the population, that brings the overall average down to 12'', which is within the range specified.


I'm assuming that the measurements on cuff sizes are for extended and relaxed arms, whereas most of the people tossing about their arms sizes here are speaking of measurements taken while fully flexed and contracted. I could be wrong on all this though.

As an aside, would a cuff too small over- or underestimate my BP?


You aren't wrong at all. In bodybuilding, biceps measurements are given based on the FLEXED measurement. The size of a BP cuff is based on an extended and relaxed arm meaning someone who measures out at a flexed 15" arm will probably fit just fine in a smaller cuff. 15" has never been big in relation to arm size. It is sad that anyone today is confused on this.


You did not say ACTIVE. In fact, here is EXACTLY what you said: "15" arms is average for a grown man who doesn't lift and simply mows the yard on a regular basis."

Is someone who mows the law (which, I would suppose, would need to be done once a week) ACTIVE?

So much for painting a clear picture...


Actually, dumbass, I went into so much detail in this thread:

That I wrote the following:

Now, please come back and tell me I didn't go into detail and didn't make it clear.


In two different posts you made two different points. Point 1: The average arm size of someone who mows his law law once a week is 15". Point 2: The average arm size of someone who is active is 15".

So.... Which is it?

Now, if you weren't such a jackass, you might have written in your later post: "My apologies. I overstated my point in the initial thread. What I really meant was...." But you did not repudiate your earlier post. Thus, it's reasonable for people to rely on that post as evidence of what you think on the matter.


Damn glad this thread came along. I seriously thought my bp was 150/70, totally ignoring the struggle of getting the cuff velcros to meet.

Thank you.