Variability is a phenomenon common to most biological processes that we can measure and is a particular feature of blood pressure (BP). Variability causes concern for many physicians regarding its clinical meaning and potential impact on cardiovascular risk. In this review, we assess the role of different time periods of blood pressure variability (BPV) in cardiovascular risk stratification. We review the indices of BPV derived from ambulatory blood pressure measurement (ABPM), home blood pressure measurement (HBPM), or at the clinic setting with the intention of providing a clear message for clinical practice. BPV, either derived from ABPM or HBPM, does not consistently augment cardiovascular risk prediction over and beyond that of average BP, particularly in low-risk individuals. That said, it would seem that certain medications such as calcium channel blockers may have a beneficial effect on visit-to-visit BPV and perhaps reduce the associated cardiovascular risk. This highlights the benefits in using combination therapy which might couple a number of therapeutic benefits such as the reductions of mean blood pressure and BPV. Overall, we should remain aware that the average BP level remains the main modifiable risk factor derived from BP measurements and continue to improve the control of hypertension and adverse health outcomes.
University College Dublin ->