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Ambulatory BP Monitoring

Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) is when your blood pressure is being measured as you move around, living your normal daily life. It is normally carried over 24 hours. It uses a small digital blood pressure machine that is attached to a belt around your body and which is connected to a cuff around your upper arm. It small enough that you can go about your normal daily life and even sleep with it on.

What happens during 24-hour blood pressure monitoring?

Normally the machine is fitted at your local hospital outpatients department, although some GP surgeries may have their own.
A 24-hour blood pressure measurement is just the same as a normal blood pressure check: a digital machine takes your blood pressure by inflating a cuff around your upper arm and then slowly releasing the pressure. The machine is small enough to be worn on a belt on your waist while the cuff stays on your upper arm for the full 24 hours.
The machine then takes blood pressure readings at regular intervals throughout the day: usually, every 15-30 minutes during the daytime and 30-60 minutes at night. You will need to keep the monitor on through the night – you could put the machine under the pillow or on the bed while you sleep.
Because the test is being carried out to find out what your normal daily blood pressure is, it is important to carry on with your normal routine and do all the things you would normally do. The only things you should avoid doing for the day are swimming and having a bath or shower.
At the end of the 24 hours you can remove the machine and cuff and give it back to the hospital or surgery. The machine will have stored all your readings and these will then be analysed.

This test is not covered by OHIP, so it is necessary to be prepared to pay for this test. Cash, debit and credit cards are all accepted methods of payment.
You should wear loose clothing and a short-sleeved shirt, if possible, so that the blood pressure cuff and monitor can be worn easily.
It is a good idea to take a bath or shower before coming to your appointment as you will not be able to do so while wearing the blood pressure monitor.
Do not apply any body lotion or oil to your arms before the appointment, as this makes it difficult to place the blood pressure cuff.

The first portion of the test lasts approximately 30 minutes. You can then leave but you must return at the designated date and time to have the blood pressure monitor removed and the data downloaded, which takes approximately 30 minutes.

The blood pressure cuff may squeeze your arm when inflated. The recording unit is very lightweight, so carrying it is usually not uncomfortable.

There is no risk associated with wearing a blood pressure monitor.

The skin on your arm may, on rare occasions, become slightly irritated where the blood pressure cuff is placed. This will resolve gradually once the blood pressure cuff is removed.

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