Ambulatory Blood Pressure (ABP) monitoring factsheet

Introduction

Ambulatory Blood Pressure (ABP) monitoring is a portable test that documents blood pressure over a given period (usually 24 hours), while patients undergo normal daily activities, including sleep. Blood pressure readings may then be correlated with daily activities and symptoms.

The test is entirely painless however some pressure on the arm may be felt when the blood pressure cuff is inflating. It can be used for infants, children or adults.

Some reasons for your physician to request an ABP monitor may include:

  • distinguish random elevation of blood pressure eg. white coat hypertension 9experiencing anxiety or stress at a doctor's appointment)
  • predict cardiovascular events, mortality or end organ disease
  • monitor blood pressure in renal disease to prevent complications from high blood pressure
  • monitor the effects of drugs on blood pressure.

 Before the procedure

  1. Your physician/technician will explain the procedure to you and offer you the opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the reading.
  2. Your height and weight will be recorded. This information will be used when interpreting your blood pressure results.
  3. An appropriately sized cuff will be securely attached to your arm. The cuff tubing will then be connected to the ABP Monitor, which may be clipped onto a belt and worn around your waist.
  4. To verify proper ABP monitor operation, two or more blood pressure readings will be taken to check repeatability.
  5. You will be instructed to keep a detailed diary of activity, posture, sleep and medication times to allow interpretation of the relationship between blood pressure and activity.
  6. Once you have been hooked up to the monitor and given instructions, you can return to your usual activities, unless your physician instructs you differently. This will allow your physician to identify problems that may only occur with certain activities.

 During the procedure

The monitor measures and records blood pressure readings from the brachial artery at pre-programmed time intervals. The monitor is equipped with an internal pump to inflate the cuff and all recordings are stored on a solid state memory card. 

The ABP monitor can measure and record blood pressure readings every 30 minutes between 7am and 10pm and then every hour between 10pm and 7am.

You will need to keep a diary of your activities during the recording period. Your physician/technician will give the diary to you.

 After the procedure

Simply remove the cuff from your arm. All blood pressure data is transferred to a computer for analysis. Symptoms recorded in the diary can then be correlated with changes in the blood pressure over the 24 hour period.

Results of the test and a report will be forwarded to your referring doctor.

ABP monitoring is a safe and acceptable method of taking blood pressure measurements. It can be successfully performed on nearly all children. Prolonged application of the cuff may cause bruising or swelling at the application site, although this is uncommon. 

There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to wearing the monitor.

 Management

Trouble shooting

If the monitor is not detecting blood pressure (if the cuff does not inflate):

  1. Ensure you are still and your arm is straightened whilst the monitor is taking a blood pressure reading. Sometimes arm movement can limit the machine's capacity to detect blood pressure.
  2. Ensure the cuff is positioned correctly on your upper arm with the arrow pointing downwards towards your inner elbow.
  3. Check the tubing which connects the cuff to the ABP monitor is not kinked.
  4. Ensure the tubing connection to the ABP monitor is secure.

To manually record a blood pressure, press the blue button located on the top of the monitor box. Your technician will show you how to do this.

Precautions

Please take care of the monitor.

  • Do not drop the monitor
  • Do not get the monitor wet

Showers and swimming

Do not shower or swim during the test, water will cause damage to the monitor.

Last updated Sunday 7th July 2024

Disclaimer

This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024


This factsheet was produced with support from John Hunter Children's Hospital.