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Controversies in Hypertension I: The Optimal Assessment of Blood Pressure Load and Implications for Treatment

      Abstract

      The most important factor in treating hypertension is assessing an individual patient's true blood pressure load, the cornerstone being research-grade office determination. Office blood pressure should be supplemented with out-of-office measurement, including home and ambulatory monitoring (if available), which we consider complementary and not interchangeable. Controversy remains for initiation of treatment of white coat hypertension, where cardiovascular risk lies between normotension and sustained hypertension; antihypertensive therapy should be considered unless low cardiovascular risk, wherein pressures should be followed for progression to sustained hypertension. Available data do not support intensification of therapy for the white coat effect due to the similar cardiovascular risk to controlled hypertension. Given the higher cardiovascular risk of the masked effect, initiation of therapy for masked hypertension and intensification for masked uncontrolled hypertension are indicated, acknowledging the dearth of supporting data. Optimally, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine the benefit of treating the 4 incongruous phenotypes between office and out-of-office measurements, that is, those with white coat or masked effects. We make no recommendations regarding chronotherapy pending results of ongoing trials.

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