24-hour blood pressure test

A 24-hour blood pressure test, also called an ambulatory blood pressure test, is a test to monitor your blood pressure over a 24-hour period.

This can be useful in diagnosing high blood pressure (hypertension) when standard blood pressure tests alone haven’t provided a clear enough picture. Standard one-off blood pressure tests can sometimes be unreliable due to a number of factors such as ‘white coat syndrome’, where a person’s blood pressure temporarily rises when in the presence of doctors. An ambulatory blood pressure test also enables doctors to see how somebody’s blood pressure changes throughout the course of a whole day, and to assess how well treatment is working for people already diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The cardiology team at Hadley Wood Hospital use state-of-the art monitoring equipment to provide highly accurate measurements. By monitoring over a 24-hour period, it’s sometimes also possible to see if blood pressure is dropping or spiking at certain points in the day.

For the test, you’ll need to attend the hospital to have the monitoring device fitted. This takes around 10 minutes and the nurse or specialist will explain everything you need to know about wearing the device. Similar to a regular blood pressure test, you will need to wear a cuff around your upper arm. This will be attached to a small monitoring device worn around your waist. This is very lightweight and discreet and once in place and activated, will operate automatically, taking readings at regular intervals. These will be automatically stored within the device, so you won’t need to do anything.

You’ll be asked to go about your day as normal, although you may be told to avoid very strenuous exercise which could affect the readings, and you will need to avoid getting the device wet. You’ll keep it on all day and night, including while you sleep.

After the device has been returned, the readings will be downloaded to produce a detailed 24-hour report of your blood pressure. This will be closely assessed by a cardiologist and, if required, any further investigations and treatments will be discussed during a follow-up appointment.

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