What is it?
A 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure "ABP" monitor is a portable device used to continuously measure and record a person's blood pressure over a 24-hour period.
It consists of:
- a cuff the patient wears around the upper arm, which is connected to;
- a small monitor, typically worn on a belt or shoulder strap
The monitor automatically inflates the cuff at regular intervals, throughout the day and night. And records blood pressure readings at various times. Including during normal daily activities and sleep.
This monitoring method provides a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of a person's blood pressure. In comparison with traditional in-office measurements; which are taken during a single visit to the doctor.
Hence an ABP gives a detailed profile of the patient's blood pressure fluctuations over an extended period. And any changes in response to activities, stressors, or medications.
Why wear it?
- Detection of White Coat Hypertension: Some individuals experience elevated blood pressure readings in a clinical setting due to anxiety or stress. This is known as "white coat hypertension." Ambulatory monitoring helps differentiate between true hypertension and elevated readings caused by the white coat effect.
- Assessment of Masked Hypertension: On the other hand, some individuals have normal blood pressure in the doctor's office but elevated readings outside of clinical settings. This condition is known as "masked hypertension." Ambulatory monitoring can detect this hidden hypertension, which may otherwise go unnoticed.
- Evaluation of Blood Pressure Patterns: Continuous monitoring provides valuable information about the pattern of blood pressure fluctuations throughout the day and night. This helps diagnose and manage conditions such as nocturnal hypertension or "dipping" patterns, i.e.abnormal decreases in blood pressure during sleep.
- Optimisation of Treatment: With a more comprehensive picture of a patient's blood pressure profile, healthcare practitioners can make more informed decisions about:
- medication dosages,
- timing of administration, and
- lifestyle interventions to better control hypertension and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.