Identifying and treating high blood pressure is typically done during routine doctor's office visits. However, office blood pressure measurements are subject to many physical and mental factors, which may reflect "clinic" or "white coat" high blood pressure (hypertension). Often, further tests are necessary to determine if a person truly has high blood pressure outside the doctor's office.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) is an excellent way to determine if patients would benefit from treatment. The Preventive Cardiology Program offers 24-hour ABPM, upon referral.
The ABPM method uses a small computer - approximately the size of two decks of cards - which is programmed to inflate a blood pressure cuff periodically and store the blood pressure readings for 24 hours. The data is then transferred to another computer at the clinic, where it is analyzed. A physician then interprets the data and sends a report to the referring physician.
Generally, health maintenance organizations (HMOs) pay for ABPM, but Medicare does not. If patients have payment-related questions about ABPM, advise them to contact their health care insurance provider.