Vol 20, No 6 (2013)
Original articles
Published online: 2013-12-11

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Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring: Is 24 hours necessary?

Michael Vornovitsky, Benjamin R. McClintic, G. Ronald Beck, John D. Bisognano
DOI: 10.5603/CJ.2013.0167
Cardiol J 2013;20(6):662-664.


Background: The variability of blood pressure (BP) makes any single measurement a poor indicator of a patient’s true BP. Multiple studies have confirmed the superiority of ambulatory BP measurements over clinic BP measurements in predicting cardiovascular risk; however, this method presents the problem of patient acceptance as it causes frequent arm discomfort and sleep disturbance. We hypothesized that 6 h of daytime BP measurements would result in slightly higher BP readings, yet reveal similar clinical decision making when compared to24 h of BP measurements.

Methods: The source for writing this article was a retrospective analysis of 30 patients who underwent ambulatory BP monitoring. Data obtained included: age, sex, ethnicity, baseline medical problems, medications, laboratory values, reason given for ordering 24-h ambulatory BP measurements, ambulatory BP measurements, and a subsequent decision to change medication.

Results: The average BP of the 24-h measurements was 127/75 mm Hg and the average BP of the 6-h daytime measurements was 131/79 mm Hg (SD 15, p = 0.009). Twenty-six out of 30 patients were at goal or pre-hypertensive. Two out of 30 patients had stage 1 hypertension and 2 out of 30 patients had stage 2 hypertension. Thirteen out of 30 patients had nocturnal dipping. Twelve out of 30 patients had a change in medication, but those changes were not associated with the presence or absence of nocturnal dipping (p = 0.5) or other factors beyond mean BP.

Conclusions: Although there was a statistically significant, 4 mm Hg systolic difference between 24-h and 6-h average BP readings, there was no evidence that this difference led to changes in clinical management. The presence or absence of nocturnal dipping was not associated with a change in medication. We conclude that 6-h daytime ambulatory BP measurements provide sufficient information to guide clinical decision making without the problems of patient acceptance, arm discomfort, and sleep disturbance associated with 24-h BP measurements.