End-organ damage associated with hypertension is more closely related to ambulatory blood pressure (ABP) than clinic or casual blood pressure measurements.
ABP measurements give better prediction of clinical outcome than clinic or casual blood pressure measurements.
The technique of ABP monitoring (ABPM) is specialised; validated monitors and appropriate quality control measures should be used.
Interpretation of ABP profile should include mean daytime, night-time (sleep) and 24-hour measurements, and consideration of diary information and time of drug treatment. Reports may also include ABP "loads" (percentage area under the blood pressure curve above set limits) for daytime and night-time periods.
Normal blood pressure values for adults are < 135/85 mmHg for daytime, < 120/75 mmHg for night-time, and < 130/80 mmHg for 24 hours.
ABPM is indicated to exclude "white coat" hypertension and has a role in assessing apparent drug-resistant hypertension, symptomatic hypotension or hypertension, in the elderly, in hypertension in pregnancy, and to assess adequacy of control in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
White coat hypertension requires continued surveillance; patients who display this phenomenon may, in time, develop established hypertension.
Appropriate use of ABPM may result in cost savings.
Randomised controlled trials comparing management based on clinic or casual versus ABP measurements are needed.
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