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Topic: checking blood pressure

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: May 25, 2018 08:07PM

nolacancer wrote:

Good evening, I don't know if husbands are allowed, thought I would try. Does anyone know of any other way to check blood pressure for a woman who has had a double mastectomy? The leg is so painful for her. Thank you for your thoughts.

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May 25, 2018 11:35PM Icietla wrote:

Welcome, nolacancer. Of course spouses and life partners are allowed and belong here.

Were both breasts cancerous -- did she have axillary nodes removed from both sides? If so, do you know how many (or if more or fewer) nodes were taken from her respective sides?

Posting activity is generally slower here during the nights, weekends, and holiday weekend times for the Western Hemisphere and North America.

My latest (Stage IVB) diagnosis is almost certainly of another distant primary type. To the best of my information and belief, I am still apparently what we call NED as to breast cancer, doubtless thanks to Letrozole. Dx 2/12/2016, ILC, Right, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 2/19/2016 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 4/1/2016 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 4/25/2016 Prophylactic ovary removal Dx 8/2018, Stage IV
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May 25, 2018 11:45PM Binney4 wrote:

Hi, nolacancer, and welcome! Of course husbands are welcome, and good on you for helping your wife out by seeking information.

I agree that blood pressure on the thigh is painful. But I find it no problem at all on the lower calf. It is likely to run somewhat higher than it would on the upper arm, so it's important to take several readings over a week's time to establish a sort of baseline for her blood pressure. Then you'll know if it starts to change. The problem is that a lot of medical professionals have no clue how to take blood pressure anywhere but the arm, so some patience while they learn may be necessary. i've had good experience with our local fire department paramedics, who seem to be quite knowledgeable about leg blood pressure, maybe because being first responders they have to deal with unusual situations.

Some of the gals here use wrist cuffs, which seem to have less of an effect on the lymphedema for some women (though that's one of those very individual things).

But from your post I'm assuming your wife is not yet dealing with lymphedema--she's trying to avoid triggering it. Good for her! It can be a challenge because there will always be those medical folks who think there's no problem with using an at-risk arm for all sorts of nefarious purposes. That's been made worse recently by a very faulty study that purports to show that protecting the arm makes no difference. The thing to keep in mind is that these are her arms, not theirs, and she can make the calls she's comfortable with about how to protect them. Lymphedema is unfortunately for life.

All that said, some women don't want to fight that battle and try to choose for blood pressure the arm least likely to give them lymphedema trouble. Some people advise using the arm with the fewest number of nodes removed since it's theoretically less likely to develop lymphedema, but as a woman with bilateral lymphedema myself, my own advice would be to use the non-dominant arm, because it's much harder to deal with in the dominant arm.

I'm sure others will be along shortly with their own suggestions and experience. In the meantime, here's some information on reducing lymphedema risk on a compromised arm:


Hope some of that is helpful. Greet your wife for us and tell her, no offense, but we hope she never has to join our Swell Sisterhood!

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May 26, 2018 11:23AM Leydi wrote:

Binney covered this well. Everyone needs to decide for themselves and advocate that their preferences are followed. I have a high risk of lymphedema for both arms but have so far only developed symptoms in one side. Fortunately, in my non-dominant side. I am not comfortable pushing medical personnel into doing procedures that they are not comfortable/experienced with. So, I have never asked for my legs to be used for blood draws or blood pressure measurements. Instead, I have directed care givers to my non-symptomatic arm and to my port (until that was removed). I've also simply refused blood pressure measurements, especially when I've been seeing several providers. I do not have high blood pressure so it really isn't needed to take measurements very frequently. I did recently pick up a wrist blood pressure kit from Amazon after asking a few different medical care providers what they thought of them. I'll take this with me to future medical appointments.

Age: 47. Dx 6/2016, ILC, Both breasts, 2cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/28/2016 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy Chemotherapy 8/31/2016 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 9/7/2016 Femara (letrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast
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May 26, 2018 12:14PM ksusan wrote:

I generally use the arm my surgeon and others recommended (DCIS and sentinel nodes--the less-compromised side), with a manual cuff inflated 10 points over my normal systolic blood pressure, which is usually sufficient. Many medical people have no idea how to do this, and even fewer know how to take a leg blood pressure. Some offices have no manual equipment. If they can't do what I need, I decline to have it taken. At home I use a wrist cuff and do a manual lymphatic drainage on that arm afterward. Binney's link gets you to lymphatic drainage information as well.

Mutant uprising quashed. Dx 1/2015, IDC, Right, Stage IIA, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/2015, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy Whole-breast Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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May 27, 2018 01:36PM Veeder14 wrote:

I've got the same problem of where to have my blood pressure checked after lumpectomy and Sentinel Node biopsy on the left side and was told no blood pressures, no shots, etc., on that side. I had a tumor (non cancerous) removed from my right radial nerve more than 20 years ago and haven't had my blood pressure checked on that side since then due to the horrible shooting pain it causes with any pressure around my upper arm.

I've been refusing blood pressure checks after having it taken on my right calf (left calf melanoma surgery and can't use) which caused excruciating pain. The nurses at the clinics just write down that I decline but it seems to mess up their "routine" for check in. I purchased a home wrist blood pressure machine to use on my right wrist (even though I broke my wrist last year and it hurts) and supposedly it's not that accurate. I don't know what else to do but the hospital clinics don't have a wrist cuff and neither did the ER.

Dx 1/2/2018, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/26/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 3/8/2018 Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2019 Hormonal Therapy
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May 28, 2018 12:00AM edwards750 wrote:

Don’t forget the people who simply don’t know how to take blood pressure at all. This lady st Walmart did these free BP checks and mine was beyond high as in never been that high. She told me it was because I was shopping? Seriously? I went to the machine in the store and retook it. It came back my normal readings. I made sure the lady knew it.


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