What is 24-hour blood pressure monitoring?
Updated: January 2020
Twenty-four hour or ambulatory monitoring automatically tracks your blood pressure at home, work and play over the course of a day. It can be used to confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure given in a clinical setting, because there’s evidence that around a quarter of people present with high blood pressure simply because they’re nervous about visiting the doctor. This condition actually has a name: it’s called white-coat hypertension, and may cause large numbers of people to be misdiagnosed.
The device basically consists of a portable blood pressure meter, with a cuff that fits around your arm and a monitoring device worn on a belt around your waist. The two are connected by a narrow tube. Your doctor or other medical professional will fit it for you.
The monitor then typically checks your blood pressure every half hour during the day, and every hour at night. Each time, you’ll feel the cuff inflating, and should ideally sit down with your arm resting on a flat surface as you normally do when your doctor takes your blood pressure. Of course, depending on what you’re doing, this may not always be possible. Don’t let the monitor disrupt your daily routine: just go on doing whatever you’d normally be doing.
On the following day, you’ll be expected to take the monitor back to the doctor, who will review the results and discuss them with you.
Blood Pressure Association (2008). 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM). Retrieved from www.bloodpressureuk.org/BloodPressureandyou/Medicaltests/24-hourtest