Twenty four hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in general practice.
Objectives: To assess the role of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in the diagnosis of hypertension in general practice. Background: Hypertension is usually diagnosed by casual office blood pressure readings. However, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring has shown that a significant proportion of patients diagnosed as hypertension in fact do not have hypertension. Method: Sixty four Indian patients diagnosed as having mild to moderate hypertension by casual measurements were subjected to a twenty four hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. A blood pressure load of >35% was classified as true hypertension and < 35% as white coat hypertension. White coat hypertensives were compared to the hypertensive group with respect to various demographic characteristics, and to correlate ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and casual blood pressure readings. Results: A prevalence of 23.44% white coat hypertension was found. In addition, the demographic profile of such patients show a preponderance of non-obese females (73.33%), the majority of whom are on concomitant medication (60%). A poor correlation was found between the casual office blood pressure readings and the twenty four hour ambulatory blood pressure readings in the white coat hypertensives as compared to the hypertensive group. Conclusion: White coat hypertension is common in patients diagnosed as having mild to moderate hypertension by casual blood pressure readings. There are no reliable clinical indicators to identify patients with white coat hypertension. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring has been shown to be a useful method for differentiating white coat hypertensives from true hypertensives.