Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is a non-invasive way of recording your blood pressure over 24 hours or longer. 

Enquiries & Appointments

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Blood pressure problems are common and treatable, and through our leading private network, we offer rapid access to tests, results and, if necessary, the most effective treatment for you. 

  • Ranked No. 1 in the UK for private cardiovascular care
  • Private blood pressure appointments confirmed within 24 hours
  • Results within 48 hours, interpreted by leading experts
  • Comprehensive treatment options within our network if needed
Female doctor taking patient's blood pressure

Signs you could need 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring is a common, non-invasive test that can help a range of people, conditions and symptoms. You may be recommended a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test if you:

  • Have high blood pressure or are at risk of high blood pressure due to age, other medical conditions, pregnancy or other factors
  • Need changes to your blood pressure medications or other medications that may be affecting your blood pressure
  • Have symptoms of low blood pressure such as dizziness and fainting
  • Have problems taking accurate blood pressure readings in medical settings, known as white coat syndrome (when blood pressure rises in appointments) or masked hypertension (when blood pressure falls in appointments)

High blood pressure can have serious complications so it's important for all adults to get theirs checked, especially if you already have concerns. With HCA UK, you can get same-day or next-day GP appointments, with test results interpreted by experts and available within 48 hours.

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You’re in good hands with HCA UK

  • No 1. for private cardiovascular care: We treat more cardiovascular cases than any other provider, with 99% of patients recommending us to friends and family. Our vast resources and experience help us ensure better outcomes for every individual.
  • Quick access to tests and results: Whether it's a routine check-up or something out of the ordinary, we'll confirm your appointment within 24 hours for peace of mind and provide results within 48 hours of completing your blood pressure monitor test.
  • Blood pressure experts: Your results will be interpreted and followed up by one of our experienced cardiologists. We have over 235 delivering exceptional care across our facilities, supported by sub-speciality teams sharing their knowledge for the best possible outcomes.
  • Comprehensive cardiac care: Should you need treatment for your blood pressure, we'll recommend the most effective options for you and can quickly coordinate them through our private network.
  • High-quality facilities and technology: We continuously invest in our locations and technology to ensure you receive the best available care in comfortable, private facilities – including five cardiac hospitals and 15 outpatient and diagnostic centres in the UK.

What is 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring?

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring – or ABPM for short – is a non-invasive way to record your blood pressure during a 24-hour or 48-hour period, without having to remain in a hospital or GP surgery. It allows you to monitor your blood pressure over time while carrying on with your normal activities.

Your blood pressure readings will be taken approximately every 20 minutes over a 24-hour (or 48-hour) period, using a cuff on your arm linked to a portable monitor on your waist. This consistent monitoring will give your doctor a detailed picture of how your blood pressure changes over a day or two with different influencing factors.

Low blood pressure isn't usually a serious problem and is something we can help you manage. If you have high blood pressure, which can have life-threatening complications including heart failure and stroke if left untreated, a 24-hour blood pressure monitor will help us diagnose it and swiftly work out the most effective treatment for you.

How is blood pressure measured?

At a clinic or a doctor’s surgery, a device called a sphygmomanometer – which consists of a stethoscope, arm cuff, pump and dial – is used to measure your blood pressure. A 24-hour blood pressure machine is similar, although it uses sensors and has a digital display.

The arm cuff is pumped up to restrict the blood flow in your arm. When the pressure is slowly released, the doctor uses the stethoscope to listen to your pulse (a 24-hour blood pressure machine uses sensors to detect vibrations in your arteries). As the blood flow returns to your arm, the pressure is recorded at two different points and these measurements are combined to give your blood pressure reading.

What's a normal blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the strength with which your blood pushes on the sides of your arteries as it moves around your body. It's measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures:

  • Systolic pressure – when your heart pushes blood out
  • Diastolic pressure – when your heart rests between beats

For example, you might see or hear your blood pressure described as "140 over 90" or 140/90mmHg, meaning you have a systolic pressure of 140mmHg and a diastolic pressure of 90mmHg.

As a general guide:

  • Normal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • Low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower
  • High blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher

When you book an appointment with us, one of our expert cardiovascular consultants will explain these readings in detail, what yours means for your health, and what actions can be taken if needed.  

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Specialists in blood pressure monitoring and care

We're ranked number No. 1 for private cardiovascular care, completing X 24-hour blood pressure monitor tests in the past three years. You'll have leading cardiologists interpreting your results and, if necessary, coordinating the most effective treatment for your condition with you.

When is a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test needed?

24-hour blood pressure monitoring can provide a more accurate, complete picture of your blood pressure than a single recording in a doctor's surgery. You may be recommended ambulatory blood pressure monitoring for a range of reasons including:

  • Age: You're more likely to have high blood pressure as you get older as blood vessels become stiffer with age, causing blood pressure to rise. It's recommended that all adults over 40 have their blood pressure tested at least every five years to detect any potential problems early.
  • Lifestyle factors: Your diet, fitness level, sleep and experience of stress and anxiety can all negatively affect your blood pressure. A 24-hour blood pressure machine can record how changes in your blood pressure relate to your daily activities and sleep patterns.
  • Medications: This test can be used to monitor how your blood pressure responds to blood pressure medications as well as treatment for other conditions. In both cases, the results may lead to you being recommended different or tweaked treatment, such as a lower dosage.
  • White coat syndrome: This describes how, for one in eight people, being in a clinical setting such as a doctor's surgery causes anxiety and high blood pressure. This can lead to procedures such as surgery for other conditions being postponed or cancelled due to potential risk. 24-hour monitoring can rule out whether your high blood pressure is a result of white coat syndrome.
  • Masked hypertension: This condition has the opposite effect of white coat syndrome, with some patients recording normal blood pressure in a doctor's surgery despite being high when measured at home. Research suggests it might affect as many as one in 10 people. Doctors don't usually ask people to measure their own blood pressure at home if it's normal in the GP surgery, so ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is the only way we can be sure of the phenomenon.
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Rapid access to 24-hour blood pressure monitoring near you

If you're experiencing symptoms of high or low blood pressure or want a check-up for other reasons such as your age or medications, we provide quick access to appointments and 24-hour blood pressure tests across our private network.

Private ambulatory blood pressure monitoring FAQs

Rest assured your doctor will advise you on how best to prepare based on your condition and reason for taking the test. This may include:

  • Choosing a 24-hour period (or longer if advised) that represents your normal routine – for example, a weekday with regular sleep, food and drink and levels of exercise (though it's recommended that you avoid getting the device wet, or driving, as the cuff inflating can be a distraction)
  • Planning to keep a journal of your activities and any symptoms you experience over the 24 hours
  • Wearing a top with wide or flexible sleeves to allow the cuff to fully inflate

You'll need to wear a blood pressure cuff around your non-dominant arm all day. This cuff is linked to a small monitoring device roughly the size of a small mobile phone, which you’ll wear on a belt around your waist. It's small enough that you can continue your normal activities and sleep with it on, although you shouldn't get it wet.

The cuff and waist monitor will be fitted at a clinic or a GP surgery, which only takes a few minutes before you can go about your normal day at home or elsewhere.

During the monitoring period, the cuff will inflate automatically every 20 minutes throughout the day – and hourly after 11pm – to take a blood pressure reading. You'll need to keep it on all the time during the 24-hour or 48-hour period you're being monitored for. It'll also take an extra reading at a randomly chosen time, so your results aren't affected by your anticipation of the reading.

Some people find it slightly uncomfortable when the cuff inflates as it’s quite tight. However, as long as you keep your arm relaxed and a reading is successfully recorded, it only lasts for a few seconds. You may find it helps to rest your arm on a cushion during each reading.

While you sleep you can put the monitor under a pillow or on the bed. During the monitoring period, you should do everything you'd normally do, except for swimming or having a bath or shower.

After you've completed a 24-hour or 48-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring period, your doctor will advise on whether you need further treatment.

A blood pressure reading between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg might mean you're at risk of developing high blood pressure if you don't take steps to reduce it. If you have high blood pressure, we may recommend making healthy changes to your lifestyle, and you may also need medication.

You may also need to come back for further tests depending on the results and your condition. We provide quick access to comprehensive diagnostics within our high-quality private network, including:

There may be some slight discomfort caused by the inflation of the cuff when testing your blood pressure, and you may find your sleep is disrupted by the device taking hourly measurements. It's otherwise a completely safe and painless test.

Yes. Not every patient with suspected high blood pressure will need a 24-hour BP monitor. Another option is home blood pressure monitoring, involving getting your own digital blood pressure monitor to continually test your blood pressure – rather than only for 24 hours.

This can allow you to monitor your condition more easily in the long term. Your care team will be happy to advise you on the range of validated blood pressure monitors you can buy.

Blood pressure FAQs

If you've been fitted with a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor, it's usually because your blood pressure is too high, called hypertension. However, blood pressure can also be too low, called hypotension.

Below, we've provided answers to frequently asked questions on low and high blood pressure for extra context around the use of blood pressure monitors. For more in-depth information on these conditions, visit our low blood pressure and high blood pressure pages.

Often people with low blood pressure have no symptoms at all. However, some people experience symptoms including:

  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling weak
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

There are many possible causes of low blood pressure. These include:

  • Family history: You're at higher risk if you have a family history of low blood pressure
  • Age: Some people develop low blood pressure as they get older
  • Diet: A lack of nutrients in your diet or dehydration can lower your blood pressure
  • Certain medical conditions: Diabetes, for example, can impact your blood pressure 
  • Certain medications: For example, beta blockers and nitroglycerin, which are used to treat heart disease, can have a knock-on effect on blood pressure 
  • Pregnancy: Your circulatory system expands quickly when carrying a baby, potentially causing drops in blood pressure

Sometimes there's no underlying cause and people who are otherwise healthy have low blood pressure.

If you experience any of the symptoms associated with low blood pressure, the following tips might help:

  • Try not to sit or stand for long periods. When you change position, move slowly – especially from sitting to standing
  • Take care when getting out of bed and get up slowly
  • Raise the head of your bed by about 15cm (6 inches) – with heavy books, for example
  • Try to eat small, frequent meals. You may find that lying down or sitting still for a while after eating also helps
  • Lower your alcohol consumption and avoid caffeinated drinks at night, but increase the amount of water you drink

High blood pressure has fewer noticeable symptoms but can lead to serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes, so it's important to monitor it whether you experience them or not. As many as five million UK adults have undiagnosed high blood pressure and don’t know they’re at risk. 

In some cases, high blood pressure has underlying causes, including:

  • Family history: You're at higher risk if you have a family history of high blood pressure.
  • Age: People over the age of 65 are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
  • Ethnicity: People of Black Caribbean or Black African descent are more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Certain medical conditions: Conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease are associated with a higher risk.
  • Certain medications: The contraceptive pill, steroids, some anti-depressants and some over-the-counter cold remedies can increase your blood pressure.

Most of the risk factors for high blood pressure are lifestyle-related. These include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Eating a diet which is high in salt and low in fruit and vegetables
  • Not doing enough exercise
  • Drinking too much alcohol, coffee or other caffeine-based drinks
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough sleep

Making changes to your lifestyle can help reduce your blood pressure. These include:

  • Reducing the amount of salt you eat and eating a healthy diet
  • Cutting down on alcohol consumption
  • Losing weight
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink
  • Giving up smoking

If your blood pressure remains high even after making healthy changes to your lifestyle, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower it.

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Paying for your 24-hour blood pressure monitor test

At HCA UK, the cost of 24-hour blood pressure monitoring is   £584, which is payable on the day you pick up the equipment. There are multiple ways to pay for your test including self-pay and through private medical insurance. If using the latter, you can mention us to your insurer as the UK’s leading private cardiovascular provider, along with your preferred consultant’s name, if you have one.  

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Find a cardiologist

Our network of hospitals and clinics offers a comprehensive cardiovascular service for those with symptoms and conditions. Your GP can refer you for diagnostic tests at a HCA UK location, or directly to a cardiologist for further investigations. You can also use our consultant finder to view our specialists and book an appointment with them directly.

Our Blood pressure monitoring locations

The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Wilmslow Hospital

The Wilmslow Hospital

52-54 Alderley Road SK9 1NY Wilmslow
How to book an appointment

Request an appointment about your blood pressure

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced cardiologists.

Enquiries & Appointments

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.