Our blood pressure varies from minute to minute. It is entirely normal for your blood pressure to be ‘high’ and ‘low’ at times, but a diagnosis of ‘high blood pressure’ (the medical term is ‘hypertension’) is made when the blood pressure is high most of the time. Once a diagnosis of high blood pressure is made, some patients will require tablet treatment for many years – so it is important to get the diagnosis right. Isolated readings are not a good assessment of average blood pressure but 24 hour blood pressure monitoring is. NICE guidelines recommend 24 hour blood pressure monitoring as the most accurate way of assessing blood pressure and diagnosing hypertension. An average daytime blood pressure of greater than 135/85mmHg is consistent with a diagnosis of hypertension – for which tablet treatment may be required.
An automated blood pressure cuff is fitted around your arm and remains there for 24 hours. It measures your blood pressure every 30 minutes during the day and every hour over night. You will be asked to return to your doctor after 24hours, the cuff will be removed and the blood pressure readings downloaded from a microchip in the cuff.