Heart Station

24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM)

What is the 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM)?  
  • The 24-hour ABPM is designed to monitor your BP in 24 hours. In general, this device measures the blood pressure every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes during the night, these intervals can also be defined differently.

  • In order to obtain a good quality of the measurements, it is essential to undergo this exam in good condition: this exam must be carried during a person’s activities of daily living. In order to correlate the blood pressure highs and lows, the technician who installs the device must explain clearly to the patient that it is possible at any time to start a measurement of the blood pressure by pressing on a button reserved for this use.
  • This measurement is used in several cases:
    • If a patient has a doubtful high blood pressure during check up in the physician office, and the physician wants to know the real blood pressure level and needs to eliminate a “white coat” hypertension (elevated BP in the presence of a doctor or when in a hospital).
    • If a patient is already treated for an arterial hypertension and the physician wants to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment over 24 hours; If a treated patient feels weak, or is experiencing hypotension.

What happens during the 24-hour ABPM?

  • The small blood pressure cuff that is connected to the monitor will automatically check the blood pressure at regular intervals (about every 30 minutes), even while sleeping. A diary is given to record the day’s activities, so the doctor will know your active or resting state. The cuff can feel quite tight around the arm, but not painful.
  • After 24 hours of monitoring, you will take the machine and your diary to the laboratory. The blood pressure information is transferred from the monitor to a computer. The doctor will then review the result and decide if your treatment program is working or if adjustments need to be done in your medicines.

What are the preparations for the 24-hour ABPM and how long does it take?

  • A technician will fit the monitor and explain the whole procedure. This takes approximately 10-15 minutes. No special preparations are necessary for the test, but it is sensible to wear a blouse or shirt that is loose on the arms or a short sleeved/sleeveless shirt.
  • You will be asked to fill out a diary indicating your activities over the 24 hour period, so that BP changes can be linked with exercise. Removing the monitor the next day takes only a few minutes.  Do not shower or bathe while wearing the unit.

How safe is the 24 hour ABPM?

  • Blood pressure monitoring is extremely safe and no different than carrying around a small tape recorder for 24 hours. Some people feel a little sore from the frequent pressure checks. Some people get a rash, but it usually goes away without treatment. 

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