Nocturnal blood pressure and cardiovascular disease: a review of recent advances.
The accurate measurement, prediction and treatment of high blood pressure (BP) are essential issues in the management of hypertension. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) has been shown to be superior to clinic BP measurements as ABPM can provide the following important information: (i) the mean BP levels, (ii) the diurnal variation in BP and (iii) the short-term BP variability. Among these parameters, there is increasing evidence that the mean nocturnal BP level is the most sensitive predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, several studies have shown that less nocturnal BP dipping, defined as less nocturnal BP decline relative to daytime BP, or a high night-day BP ratio was associated with poor prognosis irrespective of the 24-hour BP levels. These findings can be interpreted in at least two ways: namely, high nocturnal BP or less nocturnal BP dipping might be not only a potent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but also a marker of pre-existing or concurrent diseases that can lead to nocturnal BP elevation. In this review, we consider the clinical utility of ABPM and in particular focus on the nocturnal BP levels or nocturnal BP dipping as a potent risk factor for CVD. In addition, the clinical management of high nocturnal BP and blunted nocturnal BP dipping with antihypertensive medications is discussed.
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