Ambulatory Blood Pressure (ABP) Monitoring 1

Ambulatory BP Monitoring (ABP)

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What is an ABP monitoring test?

Ambulatory Blood Pressure (ABP) Monitoring measures your blood pressure (BP) at regular intervals over a 24-hour period, during which you may go about your regular daily activities.

To perform ABP monitoring, you will wear a blood pressure cuff around your upper arm that will be attached to a small digital device that can measure your blood pressure automatically. The cuff and monitoring device is worn over 24 hours.

What is it for?

Elevated blood pressure readings indicate hypertension. An accurate diagnosis of hypertension is essential to formulate a treatment plan to prevent long-term complications. However, having the blood pressure measured in a doctor’s clinic may make a patient nervous, which may elevate the blood pressure reading artificially. This is known as “white-coat” hypertension. A one-off blood pressure reading is also insufficient to determine the type of hypertension, and also if the treatment is working.

ABP monitoring helps your cardiologist get a more accurate picture of your blood pressure patterns during your day-to-day activities outside of the clinic and at various time points throughout the day.

An ABP measures:

  • 24-hour average blood pressure
  • Daytime average blood pressure
  • Night-time average blood pressure
  • Blood pressure load
  • Nocturnal blood pressure dipping

These measurements help your cardiologist come to a more accurate diagnosis of the type of hypertension, and therefore formulate a more effective treatment plan for you.

What can ABP monitoring detect?
  • “White-coat” hypertension – when BP readings are high in the doctor’s clinic but is within the normal range when taken elsewhere.
  • Undiagnosed hypertension – when BP readings are confirmed by ABP to exceed 140/90mmHg.
  • Resistant hypertension – when BP readings are high despite being on multiple anti-hypertensive medications.
  • Masked hypertension – when BP readings are normal in the doctor’s clinic but are high at other times.
  • Nocturnal hypertension – when daytime BP readings are normal but nighttime BP readings are high.
  • Hypotension – when BP readings are too low from anti-hypertensive medications and symptoms such as dizziness occur.
How accurate is an ABP monitoring test?

The ABP readings have been shown to be more accurate than blood pressure readings taken in the doctor’s clinic, and may reveal BP patterns that may be missed in the doctor’s clinic. Once the ABP monitoring device is fitted properly, ABP readings are reliable and valid.

How can I prepare for an ABP monitoring test?

Please shower before your appointment as you will not be able to do so while you are fitted with the ABP monitoring device for the next 24 hours.

Wear loose-fitting clothing so that you can be more easily fitted with the blood pressure device. No fasting will be necessary, and you may take your regular medications.

How safe is the test?

There are no risks involved in ABP monitoring. Some people may experience mild discomfort or itchiness around the blood pressure cuff when it inflates during a reading. Please inform the staff if you encounter any discomfort. Please do not try to adjust the cuff or device on your own, otherwise, it may affect the validity of the BP readings.

What should I do/ not do during ABP monitoring?

The only activities that should be avoided during ABP monitoring are those that might get the device wet, such as swimming or showering. Other than that, it is important that you go about your daily activities as you normally would so that your cardiologist will be able to get an accurate BP reading trend in your daily environment.

When will I know the results?

The BP recordings from ABP monitoring device will be analysed by your cardiologist. Your results will be reviewed and explained to you thoroughly during your follow-up appointment.

Summary

Since there are various factors that could falsely affect blood pressure readings in a clinic setting, ABP monitoring is an essential tool in obtaining a proper diagnosis of hypertension.

The data provided by the ABP monitoring will help your cardiologist develop the most effective treatment plan for your condition. If you are already taking anti-hypertensive medications, ABP monitoring helps to evaluate the effectiveness of the medications and your cardiologist may adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

How can we help you?

We offer consultation for a comprehensive range of cardiac diagnostic tests and treatment plans.

Dr Joshua Loh

Senior Consultant Interventional Cardiologist

Medical Director at Capital Heart Centre, Dr Joshua Loh has more than 15 years of experience in the field of cardiology.

He has extensive experience in the treatment of complex coronary and interventional procedures.

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