Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor (ABPM)

What is it?


The Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor is used to determine blood pressure responses to normal activity.

Having your blood pressure recorded in your physician's office may not be enough to diagnose high blood pressure, as there are usually variations in blood pressure throughout the day and night. Some people have white coat syndrome where their blood pressure is erroneously high at an office but fine throughout the day. Others have reverse white coat syndrome where the blood pressure is high at home. Finally some people only have high blood pressure while they sleep. All of these conditions have different causes, implications and treatments. An ambulatory blood pressure monitor (ABPM) is most accurate to diagnose these problems and determine the best treatment strategy.

How should I prepare for it?

This test is not covered by OHIP, so it is necessary to be prepared to pay for this test. Cash, debit and credit cards are all accepted methods of payment. The cost of the test is tax deductible and some private insurance plans cover this test. You will be issued a receipt for this purpose.

You should wear loose clothing and a short-sleeved shirt, if possible, so that the blood pressure cuff and monitor can be worn easily.

It is a good idea to take a bath or shower before coming to your appointment as you will not be able to do so while wearing the blood pressure monitor.

Do not apply any body lotion or oil to your arms before the appointment, as this makes it difficult to place the blood pressure cuff.

Bring a list of all present medications.

What will happen during the test?

Prior to the test, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Please read it carefully and if you have any questions, ask the technologist. He or she will explain the procedure before it begins.

The blood pressure cuff will be placed on your upper arm and the recording device secured around your waist.

The technologist will begin the recording and ensure that the monitor is working properly. You will receive a booklet to write down any symptoms you have during the monitoring period.

The cuff will automatically expand and squeeze your arm slightly (similar to having your blood pressure taken at your physician's office) every half hour during the daytime and every hour between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Perform your usual activities while wearing the monitor. Write down the exact times in the booklet when you perform specific activities, e.g., when you exercise, climb stairs, have sex, smoke cigarettes, sleep, get emotionally upset, take medications, or perform other activities. If you have any symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, chest pain, or irregular heart beat, write down the exact time and duration of the symptom in the booklet. The accuracy and usefulness of this test depend on how carefully you record your activities and symptoms and the times they occurred.

When sleeping, you can keep the monitor carefully positioned at your side or on the night table beside your bed so that the tubes remain plugged in securely to the recording device. The blood pressure cuff MUST remain on your arm.

If the monitor does not appear to be recording and/or the blood pressure cuff is failing to inflate, call 519-624-3511 for assistance.

The recording device must not get wet. Do not bathe, shower or swim. Do not use an electric blanket, electric shaver, a heating device for a waterbed or have a X-ray done while wearing the monitor. Signals from these types of electronic equipment can sometimes interfere with the recording.

You will wear the monitor for 24 hours and the technologist will give you a return time to have the monitor removed accordingly. You must return at the assigned time so that the data in the monitor can be downloaded.

A written report will be sent to your physician upon completion of analysis of the test. Your physician will then explain the test results to you.

Answers to common questions

How long will the test last? The first portion of the test lasts approximately 30 minutes. You can then leave but you must return at the designated date and time to have the blood pressure monitor removed and the data downloaded, which takes approximately 30 minutes.

Will I experience anything during the monitoring? The blood pressure cuff may squeeze your arm when inflated. The recording unit is very lightweight, so carrying it is usually not uncomfortable.

Are there any adverse reactions to wearing a blood pressure monitor? The skin on your arm may, on rare occasions, become slightly irritated where the blood pressure cuff is placed. This will resolve gradually once the blood pressure cuff is removed.

Is there a cost to me for the test? Yes. This test is not covered by OHIP, so it is necessary to be prepared to pay for this test. Cash, debit and credit cards are all accepted methods of payment. The cost of the test is tax deductible and some private insurance plans cover this test. You will be issued a receipt for this purpose.

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