An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a portable blood pressure recording device. It is used to record blood pressure readings at specified times during a 24-hour period. The monitor consists of an arm cuff attached by a flexible rubber tube to a light-weight monitor. The monitor sits in a pouch held by a waist belt or shoulder strap. This test is usually ordered if a diagnosis of high blood pressure (hypertension) is suspected.
A one-time blood pressure measurement in a doctor’s office or clinic setting is often not enough to confirm whether or not your blood pressure is too high or even, in some cases, too low. If your doctor suspects that you have hypertension or other blood pressure problems, he or she may refer you for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
An ambulatory blood pressure monitor is a non-invasive device that includes a special blood pressure cuff attached to a small monitor that you wear for 24 hours. At regular intervals, usually every 20 minutes during the day and less often at night, your blood pressure is measured and recorded while you are going about your everyday activities.
Once the 24-hour period is over, the cuff and monitor are returned and the recordings are analyzed by a specialist and a report is sent to your doctor.
This test is not covered by OHIP. There is a fee of $100.00 payable by cash or cheque at the time of the appointment.
Once your doctor has sent the referral, the Hypertension Centre will contact you directly to book an appointment. Please make sure your contact information is accurate.
Set up of the monitor will be done in Ambulatory Care (Outpatient Clinic) on the 2nd floor of the Heart Institute. At the end of the monitoring period, you will return the equipment to the same location.
You will wear the monitor for 24 hours. Unless otherwise programmed, the arm cuff inflates every 20 minutes until 10:00 p.m. and every hour afterwards until 6:00 a.m.
If you feel symptoms such as dizziness, headache, or facial flushing or if you feel your heart starting to beat rapidly, you will be instructed to press a button on the monitor to take a manual blood pressure reading.
You will be given a form to keep a diary of:
- Your symptoms
- Events such as vigorous activity
- Any stressful episodes
- The times and dosage of any prescription medications you are currently taking
- The time you go to sleep throughout the monitoring period
At the end of the 24-hour period, turn off the monitor and bring it back to the Ambulatory Care Centre (Outpatient Clinic). The recorded data will be reviewed by a specialist and a report will be sent to your doctor within 10 business days. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.
If you have not heard from the Hypertension Centre within a week of your doctor sending the referral, please contact the Centre at: 613-696-7000 ext. 15429.
Do not drink any coffee or other caffeinated beverages for an hour before coming to the appointment. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and a waist belt to attach the monitor. Bring your hospital card if you have one.
It is important to let the technician know if you are a shift worker so that the correct timing of the measurements can be programmed on the monitor.
If you have had a mastectomy or if you are on permanent hemodialysis, inform the technician; this will influence the positioning of the arm cuff.
Return the equipment to the Ambulatory Care (Outpatient Clinic) Centre on the 2nd Floor (the same location where you picked the machine up). Be sure to bring the monitor and cuff back at the specified time. Another patient is waiting.