How Nighttime Blood Pressure May Be More Important Than Daytime Readings

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Experts say having higher blood pressure readings while you sleep could be an indication of a higher risk of heart disease.

  • Researchers reported that people whose blood pressure rises while they’re sleeping have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Experts say nighttime blood pressure readings are a more accurate measurement of a person’s circulatory health.
  • They urge medical professionals to have people’s blood pressure monitored during sleep periods.
  • They said regular sleeping patterns as well as lower salt intake can help lower nighttime blood pressure readings.

You might think that your body is most at ease while you’re asleep.

But some people can have spikes in blood pressure while they slumber that can have potentially deadly consequences.

People who experience high blood pressure while sleeping, a condition called nocturnal hypertension, are more likely to experience heart failure and other forms of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study published today in the journal Circulation.

Nocturnal hypertension can occur even among people whose daytime blood pressure is normal.

This dangerous condition is difficult to catch, as routine blood pressure checks are almost always done during daytime hours.

‘Silent killer’ health risks

“Results indicate that nighttime systolic blood pressure was a significant, independent risk factor for cardiovascular events,” said Dr. Kazuomi Kario, the lead author of the study and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Jichi Medical University in Tochigi, Japan.

“The study highlights the importance of including nighttime blood pressure monitoring in patient-management strategies and will hopefully encourage physicians to ensure that antihypertensive therapy is effectively lowering blood pressure throughout the 24-hour dosing period.”

For the study, Japanese researchers studied 6,359 people, using wearable monitors to measure both daytime and nighttime blood pressure.

The participants all had at least one cardiovascular risk factor, and most were taking medication to control their blood pressure. However, none had symptomatic cardiovascular disease when the study started.

During 2-year to 7-year follow-ups of the participants, researchers said they found those who had nighttime systolic blood pressure that was 20 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) above their daytime systolic reading were significantly more likely to experience atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

Overall, study participants experienced a total of 306 cardiovascular events, including 119 strokes, 99 diagnoses of coronary artery disease, and 88 diagnoses of heart failure.

Conversely, participants whose blood pressure was controlled with medication had an increased risk of stroke if their blood pressure dipped too low at night, the study found.

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