Diagnosis of mild hypertension by ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
BACKGROUND Between 20% and 30% of patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension have normal blood pressure (BP) values during automated ambulatory 24-hour BP monitoring. It has not been clear, however, whether these patients can be regarded as normotensive or whether they should be treated in the same way as confirmed hypertensive patients.
METHODS AND RESULTS Ambulatory BP monitoring was performed in 88 normal control subjects and 171 hypertensive patients (office diastolic BP > or = 90 mm Hg on three visits; never treated or off treatment for more than 6 months). Hypertensive patients were classified as nonconfirmed or white coat (n = 58) if their 24-hour diastolic averages were < 85 mm Hg and at least 15 mm Hg lower than their office values. For comparisons, white coat patients were pair-matched with normal subjects by 24-hour diastolic averages and sex, and by similar age and weight; there were 40 such pairs. White coat patients were likewise pair-matched with confirmed hypertensive patients by identical office BPs (51 pairs). Participants were studied by individualized treadmill testing, Doppler echocardiography, and assays of resting plasma catecholamines, upright plasma renin and aldosterone, and lipid, glucose, and insulin concentrations. Because of the matching, compared with normal subjects, patients with white coat hypertension and normal subjects had identical 24-hour BP averages. The white coat patients exhibited slightly greater variability among individual readings (obtained each 15 minutes) throughout the day [P < .05]), but there were no differences in hemodynamic responses to exercise. Plasma norepinephrine (P < .05), renin and aldosterone (P < .01 for each), and insulin and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (P < .01 for each) were higher in the white coat group, as were left ventricular septal wall (P < .05) and muscle mass (P = .07) echocardiographic measurements. When compared with the confirmed hypertensive patients, the white coat patients had higher renin (P < .01) but were otherwise similar. Within the white coat group, plasma norepinephrine correlated with total cholesterol and triglycerides (P < .05 for each), and aldosterone correlated with left ventricular mass (P < .01); there were no significant correlations within the normal control subject or confirmed hypertension groups.
CONCLUSIONS Patients with white coat hypertension differ in metabolic, neuroendocrine, and cardiac findings from normal control subjects and have greater BP variability. These changes appear to be mediated by heightened activity of the sympathetic and renin-angiotensin systems. Although these characteristics could reflect an alerting reaction in the clinic due to awareness of their diagnosis, the white coat hypertensive patients also have evidence for additional, more-sustained differences from normal subjects. Thus, this condition appears to be a true variant of hypertension.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association