24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a method to measure blood pressure on a continuous basis. Your BP is measured even as you sleep. The ongoing data helps your doctor get a more accurate picture of your blood pressure numbers.
What is 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?
Twenty-four-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a way of measuring and managing high blood pressure (hypertension).
Hypertension is a blood pressure measurement in which your systolic (upper) blood pressure is at or above 130, and your diastolic (lower) blood pressure is at or above 80 (or 130/80). Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring allows your blood pressure (BP) readings to be recorded over a 24-hour period, whether you’re awake or asleep.
When you’re at your doctor’s office or clinic, an instrument called a sphygmomanometer is used to take your BP readings. Usually, only one or two readings are taken during your visit.
Ambulatory BP monitoring yields many readings over a continuous period. In most cases, readings are taken every 20 to 30 minutes during the day and every hour at night. Your heart rate can be measured at the same time. These multiple readings are averaged over the 24-hour period. Changes in BP and heart rate, the BP distribution pattern and other statistics are calculated.
Why is 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring used?
Ambulatory BP monitoring provides additional information about how changes in your BP may correlate with your daily activities and sleep patterns. Guidelines for blood pressure management from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology now strongly recommend confirming a diagnosis of hypertension with ambulatory BP monitoring.
For most people systolic BP decreases about 10% to 20% during sleep. However, for some people BP might not drop during sleep. It may even rise.
Ambulatory BP monitoring can detect abnormal changes in BP that might go unnoticed when it’s only measured in the doctor’s office. It’s a useful way to detect white coat hypertension, masked hypertension, and sustained hypertension.
Are there other uses for 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is increasingly being used to determine how well some antihypertensive drugs can control high BP. In some cases, antihypertensive drugs don’t control BP effectively throughout the entire day and night. A doctor may need to adjust the dosage prescribed or the time that the medication is given, depending on the patient’s BP patterns. In other cases, more than one drug may be required to stabilize BP.
Ambulatory BP monitoring can also help to predict the likelihood of cardiovascular (blood vessels in the heart) and cerebrovascular (blood vessels in the brain) disease linked to hypertension and organ damage.
Ambulatory BP monitoring may also be suitable in other situations, such as for:
What are benefits associated with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?
Ambulatory monitoring can rule out white coat hypertension, so that people aren’t given unnecessary prescriptions for BP-lowering drugs. It can also detect masked hypertension, so that people receive the medications needed for high blood pressure. The incidence of stroke, heart disease and organ damage due to hypertension can be reduced among those patients. Ambulatory monitoring may also be useful in evaluating a patient’s response to long-acting antihypertensive medications.
What are disadvantages of 24-hour blood pressure monitoring?
You may experience some discomfort due to 24-hour BP monitoring. Pressure due to repeated inflation of the cuff can cause soreness in your upper arm. BP readings during the night may interfere with your sleep. The cuff may also irritate the skin and cause a mild rash on the arm that usually goes away on its own. Some insurance carriers do not reimburse patients for using the ambulatory devices, unless white coat hypertension or masked hypertension is suspected.
How are 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure readings taken?
BP readings are taken continually over a 24-hour period. You’ll wear a device that is about the same size as a portable radio. The device is attached to a belt or strap worn on your body. It collects information throughout the 24-hour period that will later be transferred to a computer.
You’ll wear a BP cuff that is attached to the device around your upper arm. (The cuff can be worn under clothing so it isn’t visible.) The cuff inflates at certain intervals throughout the day and night. You may be told to keep a diary to record your daily readings. This can help show how changes in your BP relate to periods of activity or rest.
After 24 hours, you can remove the device and BP cuff and return the equipment to your clinic or doctor’s office. A computer analyzes the readings and generates results.
How do I get the results:
The doctor who conducted the test will do the report within 10-15 minutes right after you finish the scan and give it to you before leaving CIC. You also will have the option to receive it by email or WhatsApp if you prefer so.