Ambulatory Blood Pressure 24-Hour Monitoring (ABPM)

What is ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a test that records your blood pressure (BP) and heart rate at fixed intervals over a period of 24 hours, during which you continue with your usual daily activities.

Your blood pressure changes throughout the day depending on your emotional state and the activities you are performing. Therefore, when your doctor measures your blood pressure at one time, it may not accurately show your actual BP.

The results of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring allow your doctor to assess the changes in your blood pressure throughout the 24-hour monitoring period.

Why do you need ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is very useful if you suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension).

For example, mild hypertension might be over-diagnosed based on a single blood pressure measurement. This could be due to white coat hypertension (when BP is high when at the doctor's office), masked hypertension (when BP is normal at the doctor's office but high at home) or sustained hypertension (when BP is high at the doctor’s office or at home).

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a useful procedure as it:

  • Allows your doctor to see if your blood pressure medications are effective.
  • Is the gold standard for the assessment of hypertension.
  • Can record any blood pressure swings you may have.

Your doctor may also order ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if you suffer from stroke, heart disease, palpitations (fast, strong or irregular heartbeats), dizziness, tiredness and episodes of rapid heartbeat.

Combining the BP readings with your daily activities allows your doctor to find out what activities trigger your symptoms, and if these symptoms are related to high blood pressure.

What are the risks and complications of ambulatory blood pressure 24-hour monitoring?

There are generally no risks involved in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring tests. However, you may experience some itchiness and discomfort around the arm cuff where it inflates.

Please call the clinic for advice before attempting to remove the device, as this will affect the validity of the test.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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