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Hypertens Res. 2011 Oct;34(10):1127-34. doi: 10.1038/hr.2011.104. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Blood pressure variability is significantly associated with ECG left ventricular mass in normotensive Africans: the SABPA Study.

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School for Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.


The prognostic significance of blood pressure (BP) variability has lately enjoyed considerable attention. The need for early markers of cardiovascular dysfunction is imperative in black South Africans who have a significant risk for cardiovascular disease. We therefore compared 24-h BP variability with various traditional and advanced BP measurements, regarding their association with sub-clinical organ damage in black and white South Africans. The study included 409 African and Caucasian teachers aged 25-60 yrs. We measured office BP, 1-min continuous (finger) BP, ambulatory BP, BP reactivity and determined weighted 24-h BP variability. Albumin-to-creatinine ratio, Cornell product and carotid cross-sectional wall area (CSWA) were measures of organ damage. Africans had higher 24-h BP, BP variability, BP reactivity and sub-clinical organ damage (P<0.001). Correlations of BP variability with organ damage were overall weak when compared with other BP measurements. In normotensive groups, we found an independent association of 24-h systolic BP (SBP) variability with Cornell product only in Africans (r=0.37; P=0.01), confirmed in multiple regression models, with 24-h SBP included in the model. Only in hypertensive Caucasians, a significant correlation between CSWA and 24-h SBP variability was evident (r=0.30; P=0.01), although CSWA indicated stronger correlations with office or 24-h SBP than 24-h SBP variability. To conclude, 24-h SBP variability could potentially be an effective measure for the early detection of normotensive Africans at increased risk for the development of cardiovascular complications. Its usefulness based on associations with target organ damage in hypertensive groups seems to be less than traditional office or 24-h BP measurements.

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