Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) is a method of obtaining blood pressure (BP) readings over a 24-hour period, in which the patient is in their own environment, representing a true reflection of their blood pressure. By measuring your blood pressure at regular intervals up to 24 hours, your doctor is able to get a clear idea of how your blood pressure changes throughout the day. Also, because you are able to carry on with your normal routine, it avoids the problems of “white coat syndrome” (where your blood pressure rises because you are feeling anxious about being tested by your doctor or nurse). ABPM is safe and non-invasive.
Many studies have now confirmed that blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period is superior to clinic blood pressure in predicting future cardiovascular events and target organ damage. A single BP measure only gives a snapshot of BP behavior and it can vary greatly over the 24-hour period. ABPM allows blood pressure to be intermittently monitored during sleep, and is useful to determine whether the patient is a dipper or non-dipper—that is to say whether or not blood pressure falls at night compared to daytime values. BP at night is an important predictor of both stroke and heart disease.
Why should you have ABPM?
• To find out if your high blood pressure readings in the clinic are much higher than they are away from the clinic (called the “white coat effect”).
• To help your doctor in making a definite diagnosis of hypertension and determine whether you should take medication for it.
• To see how well your medicines are working, to make sure they are controlling your blood pressure through the day.
Bramlage P, Deutsch C, Kruger R, et al; Validation of the custo screen 400 ambulatory blood pressure-monitoring device according to the European Society of Hypertension International Protocol revision 2010. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2014 May 13;10:303-9. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S63602. eCollection 2014.
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