Blood pressure variability: Clinical implications and effects of antihypertensive treatment

G. Parati, A. Ravogli, A. Frattola, A. Groppelli, L. Ulian, C. Santucciu, G. Mancia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypothesis on relationship between blood pressure variability and end-organ damage: Several studies have shown that the cardiovascular complications of hypertension are more closely related to ambulatory 24-h or daytime average blood pressure than to office readings. A few studies have also provided evidence that in hypertensive patients, not only average ambulatory blood pressure but also the degree of blood pressure variability is significantly and independently related to the end-organ damage associated with hypertension. Limitations of previous studies: A common limitation of previous studies is that they were based on cross-sectional or retrospective observations, so that the correlative evidence they provide does not allow the relationship between blood pressure variability and end-organ damage to be interpreted causally. Evidence from recent studies: Recent evidence from follow-up observations has strongly supported the hypothesis that blood pressure variability is prognostically important in hypertensive patients. These findings suggest that optimal antihypertensive treatment should aim not only to reduce mean blood pressure levels, but also to reduce the degree of blood pressure fluctuation. Effects of antihypertensive drugs: Unfortunately, while most new antihypertensive drugs seem to be effective in reducing 24-h mean blood pressure levels, they are frequently unable to reduce 24-h blood pressure variability, which is often increased during treatment when expressed in normalized units. The development of drugs that guarantee a constant and uniform reduction in blood pressure over 24 h may, in principle, offer a further advantage by preventing the increase in 24-h blood pressure fluctuations that may follow the administration of short-acting antihypertensive agents. Trough:peak measurements of blood pressure: The trough:peak ratio, proposed as an arithmetic indicator of the duration of the antihypertensive effect of a drug, may be a useful measure of the occurrence of a smooth reduction in blood pressure over 24 h. The possibility of obtaining an additional reduction in cardiovascular risk for hypertensive patients by minimizing the net trough:peak effect of antihypertensive drugs is thus an important issue for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hypertension, Supplement
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
  • Antihypertensive drugs
  • Blood pressure variability
  • End-organ damage
  • Hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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