Blood Pressure Monitoring
At UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, our Heart and Vascular Care doctors monitor daily changes in blood pressure to help decide whether you should have treatment for high or low blood pressure.
Occasional checks at the pharmacy or your doctor's clinic only give a snapshot of your blood pressure. Your blood pressure varies throughout the day, depending on your activity levels, your body position, emotional and psychological factors and medications.
How Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring Works
You will be fitted with a blood pressure cuff that will take and record your blood pressure approximately every 20 minutes during the day and every hour at night. You also will keep a diary, recording symptoms, activities, medication taken and sleep times. When you return with the monitor, the blood pressure readings will be transferred to a computer and analyzed by a Preventive Cardiologist. Your doctor will get a report containing the readings, their significance and a brief recommendation.
Why is Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring more accurate?
Traditional blood pressure monitoring in a clinical setting often provides a poor estimate for several reasons:
- The elevation of blood pressure in a medical setting, called the "white-coat" effect
- Lack of monitoring in life situations. This leads to "masked hypertension," in which patients have normal blood pressure readings in the clinic but experience elevated blood pressure at home or in the workplace
- Lack of information about blood pressure during the night
- Variability in blood pressure measurements
Who Should Use Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring?
Patients with the following conditions should consider using an ambulatory blood pressure monitor:
- High blood pressure readings in the doctor's office
- Highly variable blood pressure readings
- Taking high blood pressure medication
- Symptoms suggestive of low blood pressure
Is a Referral Needed?
A physician's referral is required. Contact your health insurance provider for questions about whether this procedure is a covered benefit. Not all health insurance providers pay for this test.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is available at the UW Health East Clinic and the UW Health Research Park Clinic. Please arrive at the clinic on time and check in with the receptionist when you arrive. Wear a loose-fitting, short-sleeved shirt or blouse and bring a list of your current medications with you. The visit will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes. A second visit is required the next day to return the monitor.