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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2007 Dec;9(12):956-63.

Masked hypertension definition, impact, outcomes: a critical review.

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Hypertension Clinic, Cardiology Department, Laiko Hospital, Athens, Greece.


The phenomenon of masked hypertension (MH) is defined as a clinical condition in which a patient's office blood pressure (BP) level is <140/90 mm Hg but ambulatory or home BP readings are in the hypertensive range. The prevalence in the population is about the same as that of isolated office hypertension; about 1 in 7 or 8 persons with a normal office BP level may fall into this category. The high prevalence of MH would suggest the necessity for measuring out-of-office BP in persons with apparently normal or well-controlled office BP. Reactivity to daily life stressors and behavioral factors such as smoking, alcohol use, contraceptive use in women, and sedentary habits can selectively influence MH. MH should be searched for in individuals who are at increased risk for cardiovascular complications including patients with kidney disease or diabetes. Individuals with MH have been shown to have a greater-than-normal prevalence of organ damage, particularly with an increased prevalence of metabolic risk factors, left ventricular mass index, carotid intima-media thickness, and impaired large artery distensibility compared with patients with a truly normal BP level in and out of the clinic or office. Also, outcome studies have suggested that MH increases cardiovascular risk, which appears to be close to that of in-office and out-of-office hypertension. The aim of this review was to define the entity of MH, to describe its prevalence in the general population, and to discuss its correlation with cardiovascular events.

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