OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between ambulatory blood pressure (BP) variables (level, short-term variability, circadian variation and morning pressor surge) and carotid artery alteration in a general population. METHODS: We measured ambulatory BP every 30 min in 775 participants (mean age 66.2 ± 6.2 years, 68.8% women) from the Japanese general population. Short-term BP variability during the daytime and night-time were estimated as within-subject standard deviation of daytime and night-time BP, respectively. Circadian BP variation was calculated as the percentage decline in nocturnal BP. Morning pressor surge was defined as morning BP minus pre-waking BP. The extent of carotid artery alteration was evaluated as the average of common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and the presence of focal carotid plaque. RESULTS: Daytime and night-time BP values were more closely associated with carotid artery alteration than casual BP. With mutual adjustment for daytime and night-time BP, the latter (P < 0.0001) was more closely associated with IMT, which represents diffuse arterial thickening and arteriosclerosis, than daytime BP (P = 0.2). Night-time systolic BP variability was positively associated with carotid plaque (focal atherosclerotic lesions) independently of possible confounding factors, including night-time systolic BP (P = 0.01). A diminished nocturnal decline in systolic BP was associated with a greater IMT after adjustment for confounding factors (P = 0.03). A morning pressor surge was not associated with carotid artery alteration. CONCLUSION: Ambulatory BP levels and BP variability were closely associated with carotid artery alteration, suggesting that these parameters are independent risk factors or predictors of carotid artery alteration.
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