Guiding antihypertensive treatment decisions using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
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Compared with isolated clinic measurements, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) provides an insight into blood pressure (BP) changes in everyday life and an estimate of the overall BP load exerted on the cardiovascular system over 24 hours. Cross-sectional evidence suggests a direct and significant relationship between ambulatory BP and organ damage. There is also longitudinal evidence for a superior predictive value of 24-hour BP in relation to the risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality as opposed to clinic BP. The usefulness of ABPM in pharmacologic studies aimed at evaluating the 24-hour antihypertensive efficacy of different drugs and drug combinations is now acknowledged. Among the mathematical indices available to explore 24-hour BP coverage by treatment, the ABPM-derived smoothness index provides a superior measure of the homogeneity of BP control compared with trough:peak ratios. The main applications of clinical practice should be in identifying patients with isolated office hypertension and those who are nonresponders to treatment, in assessing coverage of the 24-hour BP profile in high-risk patients and in diagnosing suspected treatment-related hypotension.
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