Ambulatory Blood Pressure

Using an 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. The picture to the right shows a person wearing an ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

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.

Your doctor may want you to use 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 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 the frequent pressure checks. Some people get a rash, but it usually goes away without treatment.

After 24 hours of monitoring, you will take the machine and your diary to the doctor\'s office. The blood pressure information is transferred 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.