Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Review: ambulatory blood pressure monitoring predicts clinical outcomes
  1. Donald V Powers, MD
  1. Delaware County Memorial Hospital
 Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, USA

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

 QUESTION: Does blood pressure (BP), either self measured (SMBP) or measured by ambulatory monitoring (AMBP) outside a clinical setting, predict clinical outcomes?*

    Data sources

    Studies were identified by searching 3 electronic databases and hand searching journals, reference lists, and conference proceedings.

    Study selection

    Longitudinal studies fully published in English were selected if they reported on AMBP or SMBP in ≥50 patients.

    Data extraction

    Data were extracted on study design and setting, method of BP measurement, time and place of BP measurement, and outcomes

    Main results

    1 prospective cohort study tested the association between SMBP and total and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths at 6.6 years (n=1728) and between SMBP and fatal and non-fatal stroke at 4.4 years (n=1256) (table).

    10 prospective cohort studies assessed the relation between AMBP and clinical outcomes (table). Follow up ranged from 1–6.4 years.


    In 10 prospective studies, ≥1 dimension of blood pressure measured by ambulatory monitoring predicts clinical outcomes. Only 1 study has tested the association between self measured blood pressure and clinical outcomes.


    Until this review by Appel et al, clinicians did not know what to make of ABP because evidence on prognosis had not been consolidated. ABP is a non-invasive automated technique measuring BP at intervals usually over a 24 hour period. ABP can identify absolute BP, white coat hypertension (WCH), non-dipping (night-time BP <10% lower than daytime BP), and reverse dipping (night-time BP higher than daytime BP). Most people are nocturnal dippers. Their systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) drop about 10–20% compared with average daytime levels.

    Appel et al have structured this 235 page evidence-based report to answer key questions on the management of this epidemic of hypertension affecting 25% of the US population. Higher ABP levels and patterns in cross-sectional studies were confirmed to be positively associated with BP related target organ damage. In prospective ABP studies, higher sustained BP and non-dipping or reverse dipping patterns were positively associated with increased risk of CVD events, highly so for secondary hypertension as in end stage renal disease and type 2 diabetes.

    ABP is useful for diagnosing WCH, comprising approximately 20% of hypertensive patients. WCH predicts a reduced CVD risk compared with sustained hypertension.1 The question of whether risk in WCH is equivalent to risk in normotension, or whether to withhold drug therapy, cannot be answered by Appel et al because of insufficient reported data. For SMBP, although half of reviewed studies confirmed an association of its use with reduced BP, no conclusion could be made between its use and reduced CVD outcome, again because of insufficient published data.

    Health funders in the US are now incorporating these data in decision making by using ABP to directly estimate a patient’s cardiovascular risk when WCH or various types of dipping are suspected.2 Clinical management of hypertension as routinely practised may be changing.


    Associations between blood pressure measurements and clinical outcomes*

 QUESTION: Does blood pressure (BP), either self measured (SMBP) or measured by ambulatory monitoring (AMBP) outside a clinical setting, predict clinical outcomes?*

    View Abstract


    • Source of funding: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    • For correspondence: Dr L J Appel, Johns Hopkins Evidence-based Practice Center, Baltimore, MD, USA. lappel{at}

    • * The report addressed other questions not reported in this abstract.