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Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring may be performed if a manual or electronic method of measurement yields inconsistent results.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring automatically records blood pressure over a period of a few hours to an entire day. The device generally consists of a cuff worn on one arm and a monitor worn around the waist.

Why

Home blood pressure monitoring provides a measurement of your blood pressure at different times and in different environments throughout the day. It may be performed to:

  • Establish the diagnosis of high blood pressure.
  • Monitor the effects of medication taken to lower blood pressure.
  • Monitor the effects of lifestyle changes on blood pressure. Home monitoring can help people feel more involved in and more in control of their own healthcare.
  • Monitor the blood pressure of people who take medication, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, that can cause high blood pressure.
  • Diagnose low blood pressure that may be caused by irregular heart rhythms, medications or other medical conditions.

Blood pressure normally fluctuates from day to day and even from minute to minute, depending upon activity, posture, temperature, diet, medications and your emotional and physical state.

Home blood pressure monitoring is most effective when you record your daily activities, e.g., the time when medication is taken or a stressful event occurs, in a diary. This can help explain an unusual blood pressure reading and help your provider accurately adjust medication dosages.

Some people experience a significant rise in blood pressure only when they are in a health professional's office. This is called white-coat hypertension and may be caused by anxiety about the doctor visit. By monitoring blood pressure at home, these people can often find out if their blood pressure readings are generally lower when they are not in the health professional's office. In some cases, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring may also be performed to help diagnose white-coat hypertension.

How to prepare

Do not eat, use tobacco products, use medications known to raise blood pressure or exercise before taking your blood pressure.

Avoid taking your blood pressure if you are nervous or upset. Rest at least 15-minutes before taking a reading.

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