Background: Patients with elevated blood pressure levels in the doctor's office but normal blood pressures at other times have recently been described as having 'isolated office hypertension' (IOH). There is debate concerning whether this condition is really benign and thus not in need of treatment. Most of the previous studies on this topic included patients who had already been administered antihypertensive treatment, which unavoidably alters their cardiovascular profile.
Objective: To evaluate whether recently discovered and never-treated patients with isolated office hypertension have structural or functional abnormalities in comparison with normotensive controls.
Methods: Patients included in the study underwent 24 h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, M-mode echocardiography and high-resolution echography of carotid arteries. Parameters of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism were also determined.
Results: We investigated 76 patients (20 with IOH and 56 with sustained hypertension) who had recently been diagnosed hypertensive but never been administered antihypertensive treatment and 32 matched controls. No changes were detected in left ventricular mass (LVM h2.7, 41.5 +/- 11, 44.5 +/- 10 and 41.5 +/- 10 g/cm2.7 in IOH, sustained hypertension and controls, respectively) and in intimal-medial thickness (IMT, 0.54 +/- 0.13, 0.59 +/- 0.14 and 0.55 +/- 0.16 mm, respectively). However, the left ventricular diastolic function was significantly different (E/A = 1.08 +/- 0.3, 1.04 +/- 0.3 and 1.43 +/- 0.3, respectively, P = 0.02) and the carotid diameter significantly lower than that expected from the pressure-diameter relationship for normotensives.
Conclusions: These results, at variance with those of others, suggest that IOH affects the cardiovascular system even during the early phases of the disease and indicate the need for prospective clinical trials to evaluate the benefit from early treatment of IOH patients.