Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) is when your blood pressure is measured as you move around, living your normal daily life. It is measured for up to 24 hours. A small digital blood pressure monitor is attached to a belt around your waist and connected to a cuff around your upper arm. It is small enough not to affect your normal daily life and you can even sleep with it on.
How is it performed?
This type of blood pressure measurement is similar to your usual blood pressure measurement: an electronic monitor takes your blood pressure by inflating a cuff around your upper arm and then slowly releasing the pressure. The monitor will be started by the Health Care Assistant. It will be placed inside a protective cover and it is important that it remains in this for the duration of the monitoring. The machine then takes blood pressure readings at regular intervals throughout the day.
Normally this is around every 30 minutes during the daytime and 60 minutes at night. Many people put the machine under the pillow or on the bed while they sleep.
At the end of the monitoring period you will need to come back in to the surgery to have the machine and cuff removed. The machine will have stored all your readings and these will then be analysed.
What do I need to do?
To allow the machine to work properly, it is important to make sure that the tube to the machine is not twisted or bent. Also, just before the machine is about to take a reading, it will alert you. When this happens you should:
- Sit down, if possible
- Keep the cuff at the same level as your heart
- Keep your arm still
- Do not talk or cross your legs during the recording.
It is recommended that you do not drive for the duration of your monitoring.
Do I need to do anything different because I’m being tested?
No. Because the test is being carried out to find out what your normal daily blood pressure is, it is important to carry on with your normal routine and do all the things you would normally do. However, you should avoid vigorous exercise.
What clothes should I wear for the appointment?
You should wear loose clothing, preferably a short sleeved top. The monitor will be fitted underneath your top. You should also wear a belt to which the monitor can be attached.
Do I have to sleep with the monitor on?
Yes, it is important that you keep the monitor on during the night. This will help us understand what your blood pressure is doing whilst you are sleeping.
May I take a bath/shower whilst undergoing monitoring?
No, because any removing of the machine could disrupt the results. For this reason we suggest showering before the appointment and after returning the equipment.
May I exercise with the monitor on?
We advise patients to avoid going to the gym/ exercising whilst the monitor is attached. A gentle or brisk walk is fine.
Where can I find out more?
Source: British Hypertension Society