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.
By measuring your blood pressure at regular intervals up to 24 hours, your doctor is able to get a clear idea of how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Also, because you are able to carry on with your normal routine, it avoids the problems of 'white coat' syndrome (where your blood pressure rises because you are feeling anxious about being tested by your doctor or nurse).
There are a number of reasons why we might need this:
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 nurse/health professional. 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 15-30 minutes during the daytime and 30-60 minutes at night but may vary between different clinics. If asked, you will need to keep the monitor on throughout the night; many people put the machine under the pillow or on the bed while they sleep. At the end of the monitoring period you can remove the machine and cuff and give it back to the hospital . The machine will have stored all your readings and these will then be analyzed.