Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor
  • What is an Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor?

    An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a small machine, about the size of a portable radio. You wear it on a belt. The blood pressure cuff on the monitor can be worn under your clothes without anyone seeing it.

    This machine records and lets your doctor find out what your blood pressure was every 15 to 30 minutes of a normal day. The information collected by this machine can help you and your doctor see if your blood pressure treatment is working.

    What is High Blood Pressure?

    Blood pressure is the force that pushes blood through the blood vessels in your body. In people who have high blood pressure, blood is pushed through the blood vessels with greater force than normal. Another word for high blood pressure is “hypertension.”

    Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers separated by a slash, like 120/80. The first number is called systolic (say: “sis-tol-ik”) pressure; it is the force when the heart pumps. The second number is the diastolic (say: “die-uh-stol-ik”) pressure; it is the force when the heart relaxes between beats.

    Knowing both of your blood pressure readings can help your doctor tell if you have high blood pressure. Your doctor will want you to keep your normal blood pressure lower than 140/90. If you have diabetes, your doctor will want you to keep your blood pressure lower than 130/80.

    What Causes High Blood Pressure?

    Your doctor can help you find out what might be causing your high blood pressure. The following are some common factors that can lead to high blood pressure:

    • A diet high in fat and cholesterol
    • Not exercising regularly or not exercising hard enough
    • Being overweight
    • A family history of high blood pressure
    • Tobacco use
    • Stress
    • Some birth control medicines
    • Kidney and hormone problems

  • Who Requires an Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor

    Your doctor may request you to wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for one or more of the following reasons:

    • If you have “borderline” high blood pressure
    • If you and your doctor can’t keep your blood pressure under control
    • If you have blood pressure problems caused by your other medicines
    • If you have changed your medicine
    • If you are pregnant and have high blood pressure
    • If you have fainting spells

    The monitor may help your doctor find out if you are a person who only has high blood pressure when you are at the doctor’s office. This is called “white-coat hypertension.” If you have this kind of hypertension, you may not need to take medicine.

  • What happens when I wear the Monitor?

    The small blood pressure cuff that is connected to the monitor will automatically check your blood pressure about every 15-30 minutes, even while you are sleeping. You also will be asked to keep a diary of your day’s activities, so your doctor will know when you were active and when you were resting. Some people feel a little sore from the frequent pressure checks. Some people get a rash, but it usually goes away without treatment. You will not be able to see the BP number while being tested.

    After 24 hours of monitoring, you will take the machine and your diary to the doctor’s office. The blood pressure information is transferred from the monitor to a computer. The computer helps the doctor make sense of the information. Your doctor will review the information with you and decide if your treatment program is working or if you need to make changes.

  • Why do I have to control my blood pressure?

    High blood pressure can damage many parts of the body. If you have high blood pressure, you have a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and kidney failure. Control of your blood pressure can reduce these risks.

    You and your doctor will work together to find the best way to lower your blood pressure. Your doctor usually will ask you to change your diet and start exercising more. You may need to lose weight. Your doctor may talk to you about taking medicines to lower your blood pressure.