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Hypertens Res. 2013 Oct;36(10):889-94. doi: 10.1038/hr.2013.65. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring in elderly patients with chronic atrial fibrillation: is it absolutely contraindicated or a useful tool in clinical practice and research?

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  • 1Geriatric Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Padua, Padova, Italy.


The aim of this study was to test whether ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is as feasible and reliable as ABPM is in patients with normal sinus rhythm (SR). Studies of ABPM in the elderly remain limited, and the use of this method in patients with AF remains controversial. The Italian SIIA 2008 guidelines consider ABPM 'absolutely contraindicated' for AF patients. This study was conducted on 200 hospitalized patients aged ≥ 65 years (68% females; mean age 82.4 ± 6.3 years): 100 patients with SR and 100 patients with permanent AF. Each patient completed serial blood pressure (BP) measurements with a clinical sphygmomanometer (Sphyg) and ABPM. Differences in mean heart rate (HR) between patient groups were not statistically significant. A total of 99.5% of patients were hypertensive. There were no significant differences between SR and AF patients in mean systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) values, as measured with the Sphyg or by ABPM. Compared with the Sphyg, errors associated with BP measurements obtained by ABPM did not significantly differ between the two groups. ABPM proved to be as feasible as Sphyg measurements in both AF patients (intraclass correlation coefficients=0.73, 0.67 and 0.74 for SBP, DBP and HR, respectively) and SR patients (intraclass correlation coefficients=0.74, 0.58 and 0.67 for SBP, DBP and HR, respectively). A Bland-Altman plot analysis confirmed that there was good agreement between the two methods. Stable AF (HR 60-100 b.p.m.) should not be considered as an absolute contraindication for the use of ABPM, even in the elderly; it could be a 'relative' contraindication for very unstable AF patients.

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