Heart Health

Most Americans need a large or extra-large blood pressure cuff

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By , Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

photo of a large man putting a blood pressure cuff on his left arm

To get an accurate blood pressure reading, using the right-sized cuff (the part that inflates and squeezes the upper arm) is important. Because of rising obesity rates in this country, a majority of people now need a large or extra-large cuff, suggests a study in the Nov. 2, 2022, American Journal of Hypertension.

Adult cuff sizes are based on a measurement of the mid-arm circumference in centimeters (cm). They include small (up to 26 cm), regular (more than 26 cm, up to 34 cm), large (more than 34 cm, up to 44 cm) and extra-large (more than 44 cm). For the report, researchers measured the arms of a representative sample of more than 13,000 people in the United States. They found that over half of the men (53%) and one-third of women (34%) required a large or extra-large cuff. Only 2% of men and 10% of women needed a small cuff.

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About the Author

photo of Julie Corliss

Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

Julie Corliss is the executive editor of the Harvard Heart Letter. Before working at Harvard, she was a medical writer and editor at HealthNews, a consumer newsletter affiliated with The New England Journal of Medicine. She … See Full Bio
View all posts by Julie Corliss

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