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Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) measures your blood pressure over the course of a full day (24 hours). You will wear a blood pressure cuff on your upper arm that connects to a monitor. The monitor records your blood pressure readings 3 times per hour while awake and 1 time per hour while sleeping.
Why monitor blood pressure for 24 hours?
When you measure your blood pressure in your usual daily routine it gives your doctor a better idea of how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Some reasons for having ABPM:
If you have white coat hypertension: high blood pressure in clinic settings (around medical staff or doctors) with lower blood pressure outside of clinic.
If you have high blood pressure without a diagnosis of hypertension. Blood pressure may be high sometimes and may need to be measured more.
To make sure your blood pressure medicines are working as they should all day.
To assess symptoms such as, feeling lightheaded, dizzy or headaches, to check if these are due to blood pressure.
The Blood Pressure Monitor
The monitor is a small box that connects to the cuff on your arm. The monitor remains in a black pouch throughout the day. You may wear it with a belt to keep it up on your side and out of the way. The monitor screen will be black and will not display any blood pressure readings.
Reminders and Tips
When the cuff inflates and you feel the cuff begin to tighten, stop what you are doing and remain as still as you can (without putting yourself at risk). This allows the cuff to get your accurate blood pressure. Relax your arm down by your side. If you are walking or standing, remain standing and relax the arm with the cuff to your side.
If vigorous activity is part of your normal day, you may need to modify in order to pause and stay as still as possible during the blood pressure readings. We want you to go about your normal routine. The monitor will result in added errors if there is too much movement during a reading.
If the monitor does not capture a reading it will attempt again 2 minutes later. The monitor will return to it is normal interval frequency after the second attempt.
When you are ready for bed, remove the cord from around your neck and place the monitor by your side. It should be placed far enough away so you do not roll on it.
Do not wear the monitor into the shower/bath.
Remove the cuff from your upper arm and set aside.
Do not disconnect anything or push any buttons on the monitor.
After your shower, place the cuff back on your upper arm.
Putting the Cuff Back On
Make sure the cuff is in the correct position when on your arm. The rubber tube should point upward and in the center of your upper arm. Check the cuff and place it above the crease of your arm. Make sure the rubber tubbing is not pinched or kinked to allow proper air flow.
You may take the cuff off if it causes pain. Remove the cuff to rest the arm for 5-10 minutes in between readings. Place the cuff back on your arm as directed above.
If the cuff is causing pain and you want to stop the test you may turn the monitor off. Hold the circle button on the lower right of the monitor as it beeps. A message will appear “Do you want to switch the unit off?” Use the arrow buttons to highlight “yes” and press the circle button to select. The monitor will turn off. It cannot be turned back on to start the test. Once you turn the monitor off, the test is over.
The activity log is an important part of the ABPM test and needs to be filled out. List changes in activity or symptoms throughout your day. If you are doing the same activity for an extended time you do not need to write this over and over, instead write ranges of time. Record your bedtime and wake time. Also record if you get up during the night to use the restroom or for any other reason.
Where to Return
The cuff, monitor, activity log, and belt (if you were given one) must be returned to the Preventive Cardiology Clinic. Follow the instructions given to you. All ABPM equipment must be returned the next business day by 4:00PM. It must be hand-delivered back to the clinic. There is not a mail-back option.
We can discuss any questions or concerns you may have upon your return to the Preventive Cardiology Clinic the next day. We will then download the results from the monitor and prepare a report for a UW Health Cardiologist to read. A final report will be sent to your provider who will give you the results. If you have not received a call within 5-7 business days, place a call to your provider who ordered the test.
Who to Call
Preventive Cardiology Clinic
Monday -Friday, 8 am to 4:00 pm