Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a test that records your blood pressure (BP) and heart rate at fixed intervals over a period of 24 hours, during which you continue with your usual daily activities.
Your blood pressure changes throughout the day depending on your emotional state and the activities you are performing. Therefore, when your doctor measures your blood pressure at one time, it may not accurately show your actual BP.
The results of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring allow your doctor to assess the changes in your blood pressure throughout the 24-hour monitoring period.
Why do you need ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is very useful if you suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension).
For example, mild hypertension might be over-diagnosed based on a single blood pressure measurement. This could be due to white coat hypertension (when BP is high when at the doctor's office), masked hypertension (when BP is normal at the doctor's office but high at home) or sustained hypertension (when BP is high at the doctor’s office or at home).
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a useful procedure as it:
Allows your doctor to see if your blood pressure medications are effective.
Is the gold standard for the assessment of hypertension.
Can record any blood pressure swings you may have.
Your doctor may also order ambulatory blood pressure monitoring if you suffer from stroke, heart disease, palpitations (fast, strong or irregular heartbeats), dizziness, tiredness and episodes of rapid heartbeat.
Combining the BP readings with your daily activities allows your doctor to find out what activities trigger your symptoms, and if these symptoms are related to high blood pressure.
What are the risks and complications of ambulatory blood pressure 24-hour monitoring?
There are generally no risks involved in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring tests. However, you may experience some itchiness and discomfort around the arm cuff where it inflates.
Please call the clinic for advice before attempting to remove the device, as this will affect the validity of the test.
What can you expect in an ambulatory blood pressure 24-hour monitoring test?
In an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring test, you will be wearing a lightweight and portable blood pressure monitor machine for 24 hours.
Ideally, the test will run for 24 hours.
Before the procedure
During a clinical appointment, a nurse will set up the device for you. They will help you wear the arm cuff, explain to you how the device works, and show you how to care for the device during your monitoring period. Your nurse will also confirm the monitoring intervals that the doctor has ordered.
During the procedure
The arm cuff is connected to a monitoring device that is housed in a small sling bag which you can easily carry around. When you sleep, you can place the device beside you in bed or under your pillow.
The blood pressure monitoring device will take your BP reading every 15 – 30 minutes during the day and every hour during the night. This means that you will feel some tightening sensations around your arm at regular intervals.
You should go about your usual daily activities as the device records your BP readings. This will allow your doctor to gather accurate data on your cardiovascular health and fitness for a better diagnosis of your condition.
As much as possible, you should wear the device throughout the 24-hour monitoring period. You should not take a bath or shower during this period to avoid wetting the device. You should also avoid heavy exercises that will make you sweat a lot.
After the procedure
After the 24-hour monitoring period is over, you may remove the device and return it to the clinic at your next appointment. The clinic staff will download the data and send it to your specialist for review.
Why choose Mount Elizabeth Hospitals?
Experience high-quality and customised healthcare at Mount Elizabeth Orchard and Mount Elizabeth Novena. Our skilled team of specialists and staff carefully review your medical data before recommending the most suitable treatment options for you.
Take charge of your health today by working with our cardiologists to manage your hypertension and heart-related conditions.
Mount Elizabeth is home to the Asia Pacific's largest concentration of heart specialists. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses and therapists will guide you through your treatment and recovery with utmost care and professionalism.