Beware of "Masked" Hypertension

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According to the results of a new study, the use of multiple blood pressure (BP) readings taken outside the clinician's office are helpful in diagnosing what is called "masked" hypertension. People with masked hypertension have normal BP readings in the doctor's office but high BP at other times. This phenomenon is the opposite of "white-coat" hypertension, in which patients have high BP at the doctor's office and low BP elsewhere.

The study involved roughly 443 participants who had their BP tested on-site in 2 visits 2 to 4 weeks apart. They used a home BP monitor on 6 workdays during a 2-week period. Masked hypertension was detected in 12% of these patients based on the home, or resting, measurements. A one-time 24- hour ambulatory measurement during a workday identified the condition in about 14% of patients.

In 44 of the patients, ambulatory and home BP measurements did not agree; 27 patients had elevated ambulatory BP, and 17 had elevated home BP. Researchers suggest that patients consult with their health care professionals to determine the best kind of monitor for home usage.