Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Hypertens. 2001 Dec;14(12):1263-9.

Is resistant hypertension really resistant?

Author information

Department of Renal Medicine, St George Hospital and University of NSW Kogarah, Sydney, Australia.



Managing resistant hypertension is difficult and mostly involves expensive testing seeking an underlying secondary cause. This study was undertaken to determine 1) the extent of the white-coat phenomenon in patients with resistant hypertension, and 2) whether 24-h ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitoring (ABPM) or having BP recorded by a nurse instead of the referring doctor could clarify how many apparently resistant hypertensives actually have controlled BP.


This study involved 611 patients with BP > or = 140/90 mm Hg who were referred for 24-h ABPM by their specialist or general practitioner, including 277 patients who were taking no antihypertensives (group 1), 216 taking one or two antihypertensive drugs (group 2), and 118 taking at least three antihypertensives in combination (group 3). Each had BP recorded by one of two nurses before 24-h ABPM. Controlled BP was defined as awake ambulatory BP <135/85 mm Hg and the white-coat effect was the difference between the BP recorded by the referring doctor or nurse and the average awake ambulatory BP.


Those with resistant hypertension (group 3) were older (61 years (12) v group 1: 46 years (14) and group 2: 56 (14) years; P < .001), but were of similar weight, height, and arm circumference to the other groups. Referral systolic, but not diastolic BP was higher in resistant hypertensives (mean 171/95 v 154/95 mm Hg and 164/94 mm Hg, respectively, P < .001 for systolic BP only). Twenty-eight percent of resistant hypertensives and 32% of those taking no antihypertensive drugs had normal awake ambulatory BP and the white-coat effect attributable to the referring doctor was always greater than that due to the nurse (range 16 to 26/12 to 14 mm Hg v 9 to 17/4 mm Hg, P < .001). Nurse recorded BP was highly sensitive (97%) in identifying awake hypertension but lacked specificity (57%) to replace ABPM.


Our results show that approximately one in four patients with apparent resistant hypertension referred for ABPM have controlled BP and one-third of patients referred for initial evaluation of office or clinic hypertension have normal BP using ABPM, ie, white-coat hypertension. Twenty-four-hour ABPM appears an appropriate initial step before further investigating or treating patients with apparently resistant hypertension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center