A large body of evidence has consistently supported the relationship between blood pressure (BP) levels and the risk of cardiovascular complications. In recent years, several independent studies have also indicated that this risk may not only depend on the magnitude of the blood pressure elevation per se but also on the presence of other associated conditions such as increased blood pressure variability. This concept has been supported by a series of reports, most of which post hoc analyses of clinical trials in hypertension, showing that increasing values of BP variability (BPV) (either in the short term, in the midterm, or in the long term) may predict development, progression, and severity of cardiac, vascular, and renal organ damage, as well as cardiovascular events and mortality. Remarkably, studies conducted in populations at high cardiovascular risk have shown increasing values of BPV in the individual subjects (so-called intra- or within-individual BPV) to be strong predictors of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, even to a larger extent than average BP values. However, in subjects at low to moderate cardiovascular risk, the contribution of BPV to cardiovascular risk prediction over and beyond average BP values has been shown to be only moderate. The aim of this paper is to critically review the evidence addressing the prognostic relevance of different components of BPV addressing a yet open question, i.e., whether routine assessment of BPV in clinical practice should be regarded as an additional target of antihypertensive treatment to improve cardiovascular protection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas