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Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring fact sheet

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) monitoring is a portable device used to monitor blood pressure over a 24-hour period as your child continues with their normal routine. It can be used to detect any blood pressure (BP) changes during the day or night. The test is painless, but some pressure may be felt on the arm when the BP cuff is inflating.

How does it work?

The ABP monitor tests and records blood pressure readings taken on the arm at time intervals set
by the doctor. The monitor has an internal pump to inflate the cuff and a memory card to record all readings.

The aim of the test is to record blood pressure over a given period (usually 24 hours). Blood pressure readings may then be linked with daily activities and symptoms. The test is being carried out to find out what your child’s normal daily blood pressure is, so it is important to carry on with their usual routine. The only things your child should avoid doing for the day are swimming and having a bath or shower.

Fitting the ABP monitor

Your doctor or nurse will explain the test and how the ABP monitor works, and you will have the chance to ask any questions.

  • Your child’s height and weight will be recorded.
  • The right-sized blood pressure cuff will be securely fitted to your child’s arm. (You will learn how how to loosen and retighten the cuff, in case it slips down)
  • You will be shown how to attach and remove the cuff tubing to the monitor.
  • The monitor may be clipped onto a belt or placed in a carry bag and worn around the body.
  • Two or more blood pressure readings will be taken to check the machine is working properly.

Please take care of the monitor

  • Be careful not to drop the monitor or get it wet.

Activity diary

Your child’s doctor or nurse will give your family a diary to record your child’s activity and any symptoms they experience when wearing the monitor. The diary will help them determine if there is any relationship between blood pressure and usual activity.

During the monitoring

Just before the machine is about to take a blood-pressure reading, it will beep. When you hear the beep, you should ask your child to:

  • Make sure the tube to the machine is not twisted or bent.
  • Sit down and keep their arms as still as possible.
  • Keep their arms down with the cuff at the same level as the heart.

At the end of the monitoring

Switch off the monitor pack by sliding the small black button on the base of the device to the off position. Remove the cuff from your child’s arm. Place the device and all attachments, along with your child’s activity diary, into the blue-zip folder provided. The folder can be returned to 5b Medical Day Unit on Level 5 of the hospital between 7am-3pm (Monday to Friday) and 8am-12noon (Saturday).

Are there any risks involved?

ABP monitoring is a safe way of taking blood pressure measurements. It can be successfully done on nearly all children over the age of five. Wearing the cuff for a long time may become a little uncomfortable. Occasionally, the cuff may cause bruising or swelling of the arm and there may be other risks, depending upon your child’s specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to your child wearing the monitor.

When to seek medical help

  • Your child’s arm becomes bruised
  • Your child’s arm becomes swollen

Troubleshooting

If the monitor is not getting a blood-pressure reading or the cuff does not inflate:

  • Check the cuff is on the upper arm with the arrow pointing down to the inside of the elbow.
  • Ask your child to stay as still as possible and keep their arm down when the monitor is taking a blood pressure reading. Arm movements can sometimes limit the monitor’s ability to take a blood pressure reading.
  • Check that the tubing which connects the cuff to the ABP monitor is not twisted or kinked.
  • Check that the tubing is correctly connected to the ABP monitor.
  • To record a blood pressure, press the blue button located on the top of the monitor box. Your nurse will show you how to do this when fitting the monitor.
  • If your child is unable to continue with the monitoring, remove the cuff and switch off the monitor pack. Please notify the renal clinical nurse consultant/clinical nurse as soon as possible.

Results

A report of the test results will be sent to your doctor and discussed with you at your next appointment.

Contact us

Child and Adolescent Renal Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 1111 – renal clinical nurse (business hours) or registrar (after hours)
e: CHQ-kidney@health.qld.gov.au

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS125. Developed by Child and Adolescent Renal Service. Updated: December 2016. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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