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Circulation. 2001 Sep 18;104(12):1385-92.

Alterations of cardiac structure in patients with isolated office, ambulatory, or home hypertension: Data from the general population (Pressione Arteriose Monitorate E Loro Associazioni [PAMELA] Study).

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Clinica Medica e Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica, Prevenzione e Biotecnologie Sanitarie, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Ospedale San Gerardo, Monza (Milano).



The prevalence and clinical significance of isolated office (or white coat) hypertension is controversial, and population data are limited. We studied the prevalence of this condition and its association with echocardiographic left ventricular mass in the general population of the PAMELA (Pressione Arteriose Monitorate E Loro Associazioni) Study.


The study involved a large, randomized sample (n=3200) representative of the Monza (Milan) population, 25 to 74 years of age. Participants in the study (64% of the sample) underwent measurements of office, home, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, and echocardiography. Isolated office hypertension was defined as systolic or diastolic values >/=140 mm Hg or >/=90 mm Hg, respectively. Home and ambulatory normotension were defined according to criteria previously established from the PAMELA Study, for example, <132/83 mm Hg (systolic/diastolic) for home and 125/79 mm Hg for 24-hour average blood pressure. Treated hypertensive subjects were excluded from analysis that was made on a total of 1637 subjects. Depending on normotension being established on systolic or diastolic blood pressure measured at home or over 24 hours, the prevalence of isolated office hypertension ranged from 9% to 12%. In these subjects, left ventricular mass index was greater (P<0.01) than in subjects with normotension both in and outside the office. This was the case also for prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy. Left ventricular mass index and hypertrophy were similarly greater in subjects found to have normal office but elevated home or ambulatory blood pressure ( approximately 10% of the population).


Isolated office hypertension has a noticeable prevalence in the population and is accompanied by structural cardiac alterations, suggesting that it is not an entirely harmless phenomenon. This is the case also for the opposite condition, that is, normal office but elevated home or ambulatory blood pressure, which implies that limiting blood pressure measurements to office values may not suffice in identification of subjects at risk.

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