Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM)

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) tracks and monitors your blood pressure at regular intervals over 24 hours.

Blood pressure (BP) is used to measure the amount of work that the heart has to do in order to pump blood around your body.

 

High blood pressure (hypertension) increases your chances of developing heart disease. For most people, there are often no particular symptoms and therefore you may be unaware that you have high blood pressure.

  • Normal blood pressure (middle-aged or older): check your blood pressure every 5 years.
  • High blood pressure: check your BP frequently as advised by your GP

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be. The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke, which is why it is very important you work with your GP or Cardiologist to monitor and manage it.

Why do we use ABPM instead of normal BP measurement?

There are a number of reasons why your doctor might recommend ABPM:

  • Suspected masked or hidden hypertension: ABPM provides a more accurate reading of your blood pressure across 24 hours, instead of a single snapshot at a particular point in the day.
  • Suspected of having night-time hypertension: A drop in BP at night compared with during the day, is common with sleep apnoea.
  • BP does not lower: despite taking medication prescribed to help lower it.
  • Suspected low BP: Dizziness or weakness can be a symptoms of low BP.

Using a BP Monitor

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring

Setting up a BP monitor will take about 15 minutes. The blood pressure cuff will automatically inflate and deflate, the same as when you get your BP checked out at your local GP surgery.

Attaching the monitor

A blood pressure cuff is placed on your upper arm. The cuff stays on your upper arm for a full 24 hours. It is linked to a recording monitor, small enough to be worn on a belt on your waist.

Once the cuff and monitor are comfortably positioned, you will leave the hospital and go about your daily activities as normal. The monitor will measure and record your blood pressure and heart rate at regular intervals.

You will record your daily activities, symptoms experienced and times you take any medication, in a log book which we will provide for you.

You will also note any changes to your routine activity when the cuff is inflating and the time it happened, for example maybe you were walking up the stairs or running for a bus while it inflated. Your Doctor will use this to link changes in activity and exertion to changes in your BP, if there are any.

You will return to the hospital 24 hours later to have your monitor removed.

Your Consultant will review the measurements on your monitor and the details entered in your log book. Simple lifestyle or medication changes are often the next steps that you are recommended to take in order to lower your blood pressure.