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1.  Epidemiology of Masked and White-Coat Hypertension: The Family-Based SKIPOGH Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92522.
We investigated factors associated with masked and white-coat hypertension in a Swiss population-based sample.
The Swiss Kidney Project on Genes in Hypertension is a family-based cross-sectional study. Office and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure were measured using validated devices. Masked hypertension was defined as office blood pressure<140/90 mmHg and daytime ambulatory blood pressure≥135/85 mmHg. White-coat hypertension was defined as office blood pressure≥140/90 mmHg and daytime ambulatory blood pressure<135/85 mmHg. Mixed-effect logistic regression was used to examine the relationship of masked and white-coat hypertension with associated factors, while taking familial correlations into account. High-normal office blood pressure was defined as systolic/diastolic blood pressure within the 130–139/85–89 mmHg range.
Among the 652 participants included in this analysis, 51% were female. Mean age (±SD) was 48 (±18) years. The proportion of participants with masked and white coat hypertension was respectively 15.8% and 2.6%. Masked hypertension was associated with age (odds ratio (OR) = 1.02, p = 0.012), high-normal office blood pressure (OR = 6.68, p<0.001), and obesity (OR = 3.63, p = 0.001). White-coat hypertension was significantly associated with age (OR = 1.07, p<0.001) but not with education, family history of hypertension, or physical activity.
Our findings suggest that physicians should consider ambulatory blood pressure monitoring for older individuals with high-normal office blood pressure and/or who are obese.
PMCID: PMC3963885  PMID: 24663506
2.  Association of digital vascular function with cardiovascular risk factors: a population study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(3):e004399.
Vasodilation of the peripheral arteries during reactive hyperaemia depends in part on release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells. Previous studies mainly employed a fingertip tonometric device to derive pulse wave amplitude (PWA) and PWA hyperaemic changes. An alternative approach is based on photoplethysmography (PPG). We sought to evaluate the correlates of digital PPG PWA hyperaemic responses as a measure of peripheral vascular function.
The Flemish Study on Environment, Genes and Health Outcomes (FLEMENGHO) is a population-based cohort study.
Respondents were examined at one centre in northern Belgium.
For this analysis, our sample consisted of 311 former participants (53.5% women; mean age 52.6 years; 43.1% hypertensive), who were examined from January 2010 until March 2012 (response rate 85.1%).
Primary outcome measures
Using a fingertip PPG device, we measured digital PWA at baseline and at 30 s intervals for 4 min during reactive hyperaemia induced by a 5 min forearm cuff occlusion. We performed stepwise regression to identify correlates of the hyperaemic response ratio for each 30 s interval after cuff deflation.
The maximal hyperaemic response was detected in the 30–60 s interval. The explained variance for the PPG PWA ratio ranged from 9.7% at 0–30 s interval to 22.5% at 60–90 s time interval. The hyperaemic response at each 30 s interval was significantly higher in women compared with men (p≤0.001). The PPG PWA changes at 0–90 s intervals decreased with current smoking (p≤0.0007) and at 0–240 s intervals decreased with higher body mass index (p≤0.035). These associations with sex, current smoking and body mass index were mutually independent.
Our study is the first to implement the new PPG technique to measure digital PWA hyperaemic changes in a general population. Hyperaemic response, as measured by PPG, is inversely associated with traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as male sex, smoking and obesity.
PMCID: PMC3975759  PMID: 24662447
population; endothelial function; vasodilation; photoplethysmography
4.  Risk Stratification by Self-Measured Home Blood Pressure across Categories of Conventional Blood Pressure: A Participant-Level Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001591.
Jan Staessen and colleagues compare the risk of cardiovascular, cardiac, or cerebrovascular events in patients with elevated office blood pressure vs. self-measured home blood pressure.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
The Global Burden of Diseases Study 2010 reported that hypertension is worldwide the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, causing 9.4 million deaths annually. We examined to what extent self-measurement of home blood pressure (HBP) refines risk stratification across increasing categories of conventional blood pressure (CBP).
Methods and Findings
This meta-analysis included 5,008 individuals randomly recruited from five populations (56.6% women; mean age, 57.1 y). All were not treated with antihypertensive drugs. In multivariable analyses, hazard ratios (HRs) associated with 10-mm Hg increases in systolic HBP were computed across CBP categories, using the following systolic/diastolic CBP thresholds (in mm Hg): optimal, <120/<80; normal, 120–129/80–84; high-normal, 130–139/85–89; mild hypertension, 140–159/90–99; and severe hypertension, ≥160/≥100.
Over 8.3 y, 522 participants died, and 414, 225, and 194 had cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular events, respectively. In participants with optimal or normal CBP, HRs for a composite cardiovascular end point associated with a 10-mm Hg higher systolic HBP were 1.28 (1.01–1.62) and 1.22 (1.00–1.49), respectively. At high-normal CBP and in mild hypertension, the HRs were 1.24 (1.03–1.49) and 1.20 (1.06–1.37), respectively, for all cardiovascular events and 1.33 (1.07–1.65) and 1.30 (1.09–1.56), respectively, for stroke. In severe hypertension, the HRs were not significant (p≥0.20). Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 67 (5.0%), 187 (18.4%), and 315 (30.3%), respectively, had masked hypertension (HBP≥130 mm Hg systolic or ≥85 mm Hg diastolic). Compared to true optimal CBP, masked hypertension was associated with a 2.3-fold (1.5–3.5) higher cardiovascular risk. A limitation was few data from low- and middle-income countries.
HBP substantially refines risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to carry no or only mildly increased risk, in particular in the presence of masked hypertension. Randomized trials could help determine the best use of CBP vs. HBP in guiding BP management. Our study identified a novel indication for HBP, which, in view of its low cost and the increased availability of electronic communication, might be globally applicable, even in remote areas or in low-resource settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Globally, hypertension (high blood pressure) is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is responsible for 9.4 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart is refilling (diastolic blood pressure). European guidelines define optimal blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mm Hg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg). Normal blood pressure, high-normal blood pressure, and mild hypertension are defined as blood pressures in the ranges 120–129/80–84 mm Hg, 130–139/85–89 mm Hg, and 140–159/90–99 mm Hg, respectively. A blood pressure of more than 160 mm Hg systolic or 100 mm Hg diastolic indicates severe hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure; overweight people and individuals who eat salty or fatty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Lifestyle changes and/or antihypertensive drugs can be used to control hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
The current guidelines for the diagnosis and management of hypertension recommend risk stratification based on conventionally measured blood pressure (CBP, the average of two consecutive measurements made at a clinic). However, self-measured home blood pressure (HBP) more accurately predicts outcomes because multiple HBP readings are taken and because HBP measurement avoids the “white-coat effect”—some individuals have a raised blood pressure in a clinical setting but not at home. Could risk stratification across increasing categories of CBP be refined through the use of self-measured HBP, particularly at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or only mildly increased risk? Here, the researchers undertake a participant-level meta-analysis (a study that uses statistical approaches to pool results from individual participants in several independent studies) to answer this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 5,008 individuals recruited from five populations and enrolled in the International Database of Home Blood Pressure in Relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO) in their meta-analysis. CBP readings were available for all the participants, who measured their HBP using an oscillometric device (an electronic device for measuring blood pressure). The researchers used information on fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular (stroke) events to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs, indicators of increased risk) associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP across standard CBP categories. In participants with optimal CBP, an increase in systolic HBP of 10-mm Hg increased the risk of any cardiovascular event by nearly 30% (an HR of 1.28). Similar HRs were associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP for all cardiovascular events among people with normal and high-normal CBP and with mild hypertension, but for people with severe hypertension, systolic HBP did not significantly add to the prediction of any end point. Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 5%, 18.4%, and 30.4%, respectively, had a HBP of 130/85 or higher (“masked hypertension,” a higher blood pressure in daily life than in a clinical setting). Finally, compared to individuals with optimal CBP without masked hypertension, individuals with masked hypertension had more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that HBP measurements, particularly in individuals with masked hypertension, refine risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or mildly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. That is, HBP measurements can improve the prediction of cardiovascular complications or death among individuals with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP but not among individuals with severe hypertension. Clinical trials are needed to test whether the identification and treatment of masked hypertension leads to a reduction of cardiovascular complications and is cost-effective compared to the current standard of care, which does not include HBP measurements and does not treat people with normal or high-normal CBP. Until then, these findings provide support for including HBP monitoring in primary prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease among individuals at risk for masked hypertension (for example, people with diabetes), and for carrying out HBP monitoring in people with a normal CBP but unexplained signs of hypertensive target organ damage.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Mark Caulfield
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish) and a guide to lowering high blood pressure that includes personal stories
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure and on cardiovascular diseases (in several languages); it also provides personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension (including a personal story) and about cardiovascular disease
The World Health Organization provides information on cardiovascular disease and controlling blood pressure; its A Global Brief on Hypertension was published on World Health Day 2013
The UK charity Blood Pressure UK provides information about white-coat hypertension and about home blood pressure monitoring
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3897370  PMID: 24465187
5.  Double Product Reflects the Predictive Power of Systolic Pressure in the General Population: Evidence from 9,937 Participants 
American journal of hypertension  2013;26(5):665-672.
The double product (DP), consisting of the systolic blood pressure (SBP) multiplied by the pulse rate (PR), is an index of myocardial oxygen consumption, but its prognostic value in the general population remains unknown.
We recorded health outcomes in 9,937 subjects (median age, 53.2 years; 47.3% women) randomly recruited from 11 populations and enrolled in the International Database on Ambulatory blood pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcomes (IDACO) study. We obtained the SBP, PR, and DP for these subjects as determined through 24-hour ambulatory monitoring.
Over a median period of 11.0 years, 1,388 of the 9,937 study subjects died, of whom 536 and 794, respectively, died of cardiovascular (CV) and non-CV causes, and a further 1,161, 658, 494, and 465 subjects, respectively, experienced a CV, cardiac, coronary, or cerebrovascular event. In multivariate-adjusted Cox models, not including SBP and PR, DP predicted total, CV, and non-CV mortality (standardized hazard ratio [HR], ≥ 1.10; P ≤ 0.02), and all CV, cardiac, coronary, and stroke events (HR, ≥ 1.21; P < 0.0001). For CV mortality (HR, 1.34 vs. 1.30; P = 0.71) and coronary events (1.28 vs. 1.21; P = 0.26), SBP and the DP were equally predictive. As compared with DP, SBP was a stronger predictor of all CV events (1.39 vs. 1.27; P = 0.002) and stroke (1.61 vs. 1.36; P < 0.0001), and a slightly stronger predictor of cardiac events (1.32 vs. 1.22; P = 0.06). In fully adjusted models, including both SBP and PR, the predictive value of DP disappeared for fatal endpoints (P ≥ 0.07), coronary events (P = 0.06), and stroke (P = 0.12), or DP was even inversely associated with the risk of all CV and cardiac events (both P ≤ 0.01).
In the general population, we did not observe DP to add to risk stratification over and beyond SBP and PR.
PMCID: PMC3792705  PMID: 23391621
blood pressure; double product; systolic blood pressure; cardiovascular risk; hypertension; general population
6.  Association of left ventricular diastolic function with systolic dyssynchrony: a population study 
Left ventricular (LV) (dys)synchrony has an important impact on LV function and structure. Our study aimed to describe the distribution and determinants of LV mechanical delay indexes in the general population and to assess an association of different Doppler indexes reflecting LV diastolic function with LV mechanical delay indexes.
Methods and results
In 200 subjects enrolled in a family-based population study (46.5% women; mean age, 57.9; 48% hypertensive), we performed echocardiography with tissue synchronization imaging (TSI) and two-dimensional speckle tracking. We measured the maximum difference in time to peak systolic velocity between any 2 of 12 LV segments (Ts-max); the standard deviation of time to peak systolic velocity of 12 segments (Ts-sd); the difference in time to peak systolic velocity and strain between septal and lateral LV walls and the strain delay index in septal and lateral walls [septal and lateral (SDI)]. In univariable and multivariable regression analyses, TSI indexes and lateral SDI independently increased with age (P ≤ 0.027) and body mass index (P ≤ 0.010). Ts-max and Ts-sd also increased with female sex (P ≤ 0.0002) and decreased with heart rate (P ≤ 0.0004). Septal SDI only increased with female sex (P < 0.0001). Among the Doppler indexes of LV diastolic function, only E/e′ was significantly and positively associated with TSI indexes (P ≤ 0.037) and lateral SDI (P = 0.0026), but not with septal SDI (P = 0.69). In participants with advanced stage of LV diastolic dysfunction, TSI indexes were prolonged compare with subjects with normal LV diastolic function (P ≤ 0.002).
We demonstrated that in unselected subjects LV diastolic dysfunction was associated with mechanical LV dyssynchrony as assessed by echocardiography.
PMCID: PMC3792706  PMID: 23002213
Population; Left ventricular dyssynchrony; Tissue synchronization imaging; Strain; Diastolic dysfunction
7.  A family-based association test to detect gene–gene interactions in the presence of linkage 
For many complex diseases, quantitative traits contain more information than dichotomous traits. One of the approaches used to analyse these traits in family-based association studies is the quantitative transmission disequilibrium test (QTDT). The QTDT is a regression-based approach that models simultaneously linkage and association. It splits up the association effect in a between- and a within-family genetic component to adjust and test for population stratification and includes a variance components method to model linkage. We extend this approach to detect gene–gene interactions between two unlinked QTLs by adjusting the definition of the between- and within-family component and the variance components included in the model. We simulate data to investigate the influence of the epistasis model, linkage disequilibrium patterns between the markers and the QTLs, and allele frequencies on the power and type I error rates of the approach. Results show that for some of the investigated settings, power gains are obtained in comparison with FAM-MDR. We conclude that our approach shows promising results for candidate-gene studies where too few markers are available to correct for population stratification using standard methods (for example EIGENSTRAT). The proposed method is applied to real-life data on hypertension from the FLEMENGHO study.
PMCID: PMC3421128  PMID: 22419171
QTDT; epistasis; association; linkage
8.  Associations of Urinary Cadmium with Age and Urinary Proteins: Further Evidence of Physiological Variations Unrelated to Metal Accumulation and Toxicity 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2013;121(9):1047-1053.
Background: The current risk assessment for environmental cadmium (Cd) largely relies on the assumption that urinary Cd (U-Cd) is a reliable biomarker of the Cd body burden. Recent studies have questioned the validity of this assumption.
Objectives: We studied the lifetime trend of U-Cd as a function of diuresis, gender, smoking status, and protein tubular reabsorption. We also analyzed the associations between U-Cd and urinary proteins.
Methods: Cd, retinol-binding protein, and albumin were measured in the urine of six cohorts of the general population of Belgium, with a mean age ranging from 5.7 to 88.1 years (n = 1,567). Variations of U-Cd with age were modeled using natural cubic splines.
Results: In both genders, U-Cd decreased to a minimum (~ 0.20 μg/L) at the end of adolescence, then increased until 60–70 years of age (~ 0.60 μg/L in never-smokers) before leveling off or decreasing. When U-Cd was expressed in micrograms per gram of creatinine, these variations were amplified (minimum, 0.15 µg/g creatinine; maximum, 0.70 µg/g creatinine) and much higher U-Cd values were observed in women. We observed no difference in U-Cd levels between never-smokers and former smokers, and the difference with current smokers did not increase over time. Lifetime curves of U-Cd were higher with increasing urinary retinol-binding protein or albumin, a consequence of the coexcretion of Cd with proteins.
Conclusions: At low Cd exposure levels, U-Cd and age are associated through nonlinear and nonmonotonic relationships that appear to be driven mainly by recent Cd intake and physiological variations in the excretion of creatinine and proteins.
Citation: Chaumont A, Voisin C, Deumer G, Haufroid V, Annesi-Maesano I, Roels H, Thijs L, Staessen J, Bernard A. 2013. Associations of urinary cadmium with age and urinary proteins: further evidence of physiological variations unrelated to metal accumulation and toxicity. Environ Health Perspect 121:1047–1053;
PMCID: PMC3764089  PMID: 23774576
9.  Urinary proteome analysis in hypertensive patients with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction 
European heart journal  2012;33(18):2342-2350.
Despite the significant heart failure (HF) burden on society, easily applicable screening techniques, particularly for the early detection of asymptomatic left ventricular (LV) dysfunction, are lacking. The present study aimed to identify and test a set of urinary polypeptides that may indicate early LV diastolic dysfunction as defined by echocardiography in hypertensive patients in a cross-sectional case–control study nested within the FLEMish study on ENvironment, Genes and Health Outcome (FLEMENGHO).
Methods and results
To identify potentially discriminating urinary biomarkers for LV diastolic dysfunction, we applied capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry. In the discovery set, we compared 19 hypertensive patients with asymptomatic LV diastolic dysfunction with 19 healthy controls. In the absence of adjustment for multiple testing, 85 urinary peptides were different between cases and controls at a P-value of <0.033. With adjustment for multiple testing, three potential biomarkers remained significantly different between cases and controls (P ≤ 0.02). We combined the 85 potential biomarkers in a high-dimensional model (classifier), which we applied in a blinded manner to an independent test set of 16 hypertensive patients with symptomatic HF and 16 healthy controls. Upon unblinding, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of the HF classification was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.70–0.98; P = 0.001).
In asymptomatic hypertensive patients with LV diastolic dysfunction, we identified a set of urinary polypeptides specific for essential hypertension with LV diastolic dysfunction that subsequently distinguished hypertensive patients with overt HF from healthy controls.
PMCID: PMC3705161  PMID: 22789915
Diastolic dysfunction; Urinary proteomics
10.  Central Systolic Augmentation Indexes and Urinary Sodium in a White Population 
American journal of hypertension  2013;26(1):95-103.
The association between cardiovascular health and salt intake remains controversial. The objective of our study was to assess the association between arterial stiffness and urinary sodium, both cross-sectionally and prospectively.
In 630 participants (mean age 40.6 years; 51% women), randomly recruited from a Flemish population, we measured sodium and creatinine in 24-hour urine samples at baseline and follow-up (median, 9.7 years) and the carotid and aortic augmentation indexes (AIs) standardized to heart rate at follow-up only.
From baseline to follow-up, the urinary sodium concentration decreased (117.1 vs. 105.2 mmol/L; P < 0.0001), whereas 24-hour urinary sodium did not change significantly (166.5 vs. 171.5 mmol/L; P = 0.12). In multivariable-adjusted longitudinal analyses, a 40 mmol/L (~1 SD) increase in the urinary sodium concentration was independently and inversely associated with the carotid AI (effect size, −1.38 ± 0.66%; P = 0.04) and aortic AI (−1.54 ± 0.72%; P = 0.02). In cross-sectional analyses of follow-up data, these estimates were −1.26 ± 0.70% (P = 0.07) and −1.52 ± 0.76% (P = 0.04), respectively. In the longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses, the carotid and aortic AIs were unrelated to the 24-hour urinary excretion of sodium.
Our study showed an inverse association between the central arterial AIs and the urinary sodium concentration. Further research is required to consolidate our findings, to unravel the underlying mechanism, and to establish the role of renal vasodilatation in the maintenance of sodium balance.
PMCID: PMC3705162  PMID: 23382332
artery stiffness; blood pressure; cross-sectional; hypertension; prospective; urinary sodium; white population
11.  Heritability and intrafamilial aggregation of arterial characteristics 
Journal of hypertension  2008;26(4):721-728.
We investigated the heritability and familial aggregation of various indexes of arterial stiffness and wave reflection and we partitioned the phenotypic correlation between these traits into shared genetic and environmental components.
Using a family-based population sample, we recruited 204 parents (mean age, 51.7 years) and 290 offspring (29.4 years) from the population in Cracow, Poland (62 families), Hechtel-Eksel, Belgium (36), and Pilsen, the Czech Republic (50). We measured peripheral pulse pressure (PPp) sphygmomanometrically at the brachial artery; central pulse pressure (PPc), the peripheral augmentation indexes (PAIxs) and central augmentation indexes (CAIxs) by applanation tonometry at the radial artery; and aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) by tonometry or ultrasound. In multivariate-adjusted analyses, we used the ASSOC and PROC GENMOD procedures as implemented in SAGE and SAS, respectively.
We found significant heritability for PAIx, CAIx, PPc and mean arterial pressure ranging from 0.37 to 0.41; P ≤ 0.0001. The method of intrafamilial concordance confirmed these results; intrafamilial correlation coefficients were significant for all arterial indexes (r > ≥ 0.12; P < ≤ 0.02) with the exception of PPc (r = −0.007; P = 0.90) in parent–offspring pairs. The sib–sib correlations were also significant for CAIx (r = 0.22; P = 0.001). The genetic correlation between PWV and the other arterial indexes were significant (ρG ≥ 0.29; P < 0.0001). The corresponding environmental correlations were only significantly positive for PPp (ρE = 0.10, P = 0.03).
The observation of significant intrafamilial concordance and heritability of various indexes of arterial stiffness as well as the genetic correlations among arterial phenotypes strongly support the search for shared genetic determinants underlying these traits.
PMCID: PMC3693934  PMID: 18327082
arterial stiffness; familial aggregation; heritability; pulse pressure; systolic augmentation
12.  Ethnic differences in proximal and distal tubular sodium reabsorption are heritable in black and white populations 
Journal of hypertension  2009;27(3):606-612.
Segmental handling of sodium along the proximal and distal nephron might be heritable and different between black and white participants.
We randomly recruited 95 nuclear families of black South African ancestry and 103 nuclear families of white Belgian ancestry. We measured the (FENa) and estimated the fractional renal sodium reabsorption in the proximal (RNaprox) and distal (RNadist) tubules from the clearances of endogenous lithium and creatinine. In multivariable analyses, we studied the relation of RNaprox and RNadist with FENa and estimated the heritability (h2) of RNaprox and RNadist.
Independent of urinary sodium excretion, South Africans (n =240) had higher RNaprox (unadjusted median, 93.9% vs. 81.0%; P < 0.001) than Belgians (n =737), but lower RNadist (91.2% vs. 95.1%; P < 0.001). The slope of RNaprox on FENa was steeper in Belgians than in South Africans (−5.40 ±0.58 vs. −0.78 ±0.58 units; P < 0.001), whereas the opposite was true for the slope of RNadist on FENa (−3.84 ± 0.19 vs. −13.71 ± 1.30 units; P < 0.001). h2 of RNaprox and RNadist was high and significant (P < 0.001) in both countries. h2 was higher in South Africans than in Belgians for RNaprox (0.82 vs. 0.56; P < 0.001), but was similar for RNadist (0.68 vs. 0.50; P = 0.17). Of the filtered sodium load, black participants reabsorb more than white participants in the proximal nephron and less postproximally.
Segmental sodium reabsorption along the nephron is highly heritable, but the capacity for regulation in the proximal and postproximal tubules differs between whites and blacks.
PMCID: PMC3683574  PMID: 19262228
clinical genetics; epidemiology; kidney; lithium clearance; salt sensitivity; segmental tubular sodium transport
13.  Masked Hypertension in Diabetes Mellitus 
Hypertension  2013;61(5):964-971.
Although distinguishing features of masked hypertension in diabetics are well known, the significance of antihypertensive treatment on clinical practice decisions has not been fully explored. We analyzed 9691 subjects from the population-based 11-country International Database on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Relation to Cardiovascular Outcomes. Prevalence of masked hypertension in untreated normotensive participants was higher (P<0.0001) among 229 diabetics (29.3%, n=67) than among 5486 nondiabetics (18.8%, n=1031). Over a median of 11.0 years of follow-up, the adjusted risk for a composite cardiovascular end point in untreated diabetic-masked hypertensives tended to be higher than in normotensives (hazard rate [HR], 1.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.97–3.97; P=0.059), similar to untreated stage 1 hypertensives (HR, 1.07; CI, 0.58–1.98; P=0.82), but less than stage 2 hypertensives (HR, 0.53; CI, 0.29–0.99; P=0.048). In contrast, cardiovascular risk was not significantly different in antihypertensive-treated diabetic-masked hypertensives, as compared with the normotensive comparator group (HR, 1.13; CI, 0.54–2.35; P=0.75), stage 1 hypertensives (HR, 0.91; CI, 0.49–1.69; P=0.76), and stage 2 hypertensives (HR, 0.65; CI, 0.35–1.20; P=0.17). In the untreated diabetic-masked hypertensive population, mean conventional systolic/diastolic blood pressure was 129.2±8.0/76.0±7.3 mm Hg, and mean daytime systolic/diastolic blood pressure 141.5±9.1/83.7±6.5 mm Hg. In conclusion, masked hypertension occurred in 29% of untreated diabetics, had comparable cardiovascular risk as stage 1 hypertension, and would require considerable reduction in conventional blood pressure to reach daytime ambulatory treatment goal. Importantly, many hypertensive diabetics when receiving antihypertensive therapy can present with normalized conventional and elevated ambulatory blood pressure that mimics masked hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3631136  PMID: 23478096
ambulatory blood pressure; conventional blood pressure; diabetes mellitus; masked hypertension; population study
14.  Impact of Hypertension on Ventricular-Arterial Coupling and Regional Myocardial Work at Rest and during Isometric Exercise 
To understand better the mechanism of left ventricular (LV) remodeling related to hypertension, it is important to evaluate LV function in relation to the changes in loading conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in conventional ventricular-arterial coupling indexes, LV strain, and a new index reflecting regional myocardial work assessed noninvasively at rest and during isometric exercise in a random sample including participants with normal blood pressure and those with hypertension.
A total of 148 participants (53.4% women; mean age, 52.0 years; 39.2% with hypertension) underwent simultaneous echocardiographic and arterial data acquisition at rest and during increased afterload (handgrip exercise). End-systolic pressure was determined from the carotid pulse wave. Arterial elastance (Ea) and LV elastance (Ees) were calculated as end-systolic pressure/stroke volume and end-systolic pressure/end-systolic volume. Doppler tissue imaging and two-dimensional speckle tracking were used to derive LV longitudinal strain. Regional myocardial work (ejection work density [EWD]) was the area of the pressure-strain loop during ejection.
At rest, with adjustments applied, Ees (3.06 vs 3.71 mmHg/mL,P = .0003), Ea/Ees (0.54 vs 0.47,P=.002) and EWD (670 vs 802 Pa/m2, P = .0001) differed significantly between participants with normal blood pressure and those with hypertension. During handgrip exercise, Ea and Ea/Ees significantly increased (P < .0001) in both groups. Doppler tissue imaging and two-dimensional LV strain decreased in participants with hypertension (P ≤ .008). Only in subjects with normal blood pressure EWD significantly increased (+14.7%, P = .0009).
Although patients with hypertension compared with those with normal blood pressure have increased LV systolic stiffness and regional myocardial work to match arterial load at rest, they might have diminished cardiac reserve to increase myocardial performance, as estimated by EWD during isometric exercise.
PMCID: PMC3607228  PMID: 22622108
Echocardiography; Hypertension; Ventricular-arterial coupling; Strain
15.  Within-Subject Blood Pressure Level—Not Variability—Predicts Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes in a General Population 
Hypertension  2012;60(5):1138-1147.
To assess the prognostic significance of blood pressure (BP) variability, we followed health outcomes in a family-based random population sample representative of the general population (n=2944; mean age: 44.9 years; 50.7% women). At baseline, BP was measured 5 times consecutively at each of 2 home visits 2 to 4 weeks apart. We assessed within-subject overall (10 readings), within- and between-visit systolic BP variability from variability independent of the mean, the difference between maximum and minimum BP, and average real variability. Over a median follow-up of 12 years, 401 deaths occurred and 311 participants experienced a fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular event. Overall systolic BP variability averaged (SD) 5.45 (2.82) units, 15.87 (8.36) mm Hg, and 4.08 (2.05) mm Hg for variability independent of the mean, difference between maximum and minimum BP, and average real variability, respectively. Female sex, older age, higher-mean systolic BP, lower body mass index, a history of peripheral arterial disease, and use of β-blockers were the main correlates of systolic BP variability. In multivariable-adjusted analyses, overall and within- and between-visit BP variability did not predict total or cardiovascular mortality or the composite of any fatal plus nonfatal cardiovascular end point. For instance, the hazard ratios for all cardiovascular events combined in relation to overall variability independent of the mean, difference between maximum and minimum BP, and average real variability were 1.05 (0.96–1.15), 1.06 (0.96–1.16), and 1.08 (0.98–1.19), respectively. By contrast, mean systolic BP was a significant predictor of all end points under study, independent of BP variability. In conclusion, in an unbiased population sample, BP variability did not contribute to risk stratification over and beyond mean systolic BP.
PMCID: PMC3607229  PMID: 23071126
blood pressure variability; cardiovascular disease; population science; risk factors; epidemiology
16.  Renal Denervation 
Hypertension  2012;60(3):596-606.
The term “ultima ratio” has multiple, though related, meanings. The motto “ultima ratio regum,” cast on the cannons of the French army of King Louis XIV, meant that war is the last argument of kings, that is, the one to be used after all diplomatic arguments have failed. Along similar lines, we propose that, given the current evidence, renal denervation should be used as a last resort, after state-of-the-art drug treatment optimized at expert centers failed to control blood pressure.
PMCID: PMC3607230  PMID: 22851728
17.  Heritability of The Retinal Microcirculation in Flemish Families 
American journal of hypertension  2013;26(3):392-399.
Few population studies have described the heritability and intrafamilial concordance of the retinal microvessels, or the genetic or environmental correlations of the phenotypes of these vessels.
We randomly selected 413 participants from 70 families (mean age, 51.5 years; 50.1% women) from a Flemish population. We post-processed retinal images using IVAN software to generate the central retinal arteriole equivalent (CRAE), central retinal venule equivalent (CRVE), and arteriole-to-venule-ratio (AVR) from these images. We used SAGE version 6.2 and SAS version 9.2 to compute multivariate-adjusted estimates of heritability and intrafamilial correlations of the CRAE, CRVE, and AVR of the retinal microvessels in the images.
Sex, age, mean arterial pressure, and smoking explained up to 12.7% of the variance of the phenotypes of the retinal microvessels of the study participants. With adjustments applied for these covariates, the heritability estimates of CRAE, CRVE, and AVR were 0.213 (P = 0.044), 0.339 (P = 0.010), and 0.272 (P = 0.004), respectively. The parent–offspring correlations for CRAE, CRVE, and AVR were 0.118 (NS), 0.225 (P < 0.01), and 0.215 (P < 0.05), respectively. The corresponding values were 0.222 (P < 0.05), 0.213 (P < 0.05), and 0.390 (P < 0.001) for sib–sib correlations, respectively. The genetic and environmental correlations between CRAE and CRVE were 0.360 and 0.545 (P < 0.001 for both).
Our study showed moderate heritability for CRAE, CRVE, and AVR, and a significant genetic correlation of CRAE with CRVE in the Flemish population of our study. These findings suggest that genetic factors influence the diameter of the retinal microvessels, and that CRAE and CRVE share some genetic determinants.
PMCID: PMC3607231  PMID: 23382490
blood pressure; heritability; hypertension; microcirculation; retina
18.  Significance of White-Coat Hypertension in Older Persons With Isolated Systolic Hypertension 
Hypertension  2012;59(3):564-571.
The significance of white-coat hypertension in older persons with isolated systolic hypertension remains poorly understood. We analyzed subjects from the population-based 11-country International Database on Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring in Relation to Cardiovascular Outcomes database who had daytime ambulatory blood pressure (BP; ABP) and conventional BP (CBP) measurements. After excluding persons with diastolic hypertension by CBP (≥90 mm Hg) or by daytime ABP (≥85 mm Hg), a history of cardiovascular disease, and persons <18 years of age, the present analysis totaled 7295 persons, of whom 1593 had isolated systolic hypertension. During a median follow-up of 10.6 years, there was a total of 655 fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events. The analyses were stratified by treatment status. In untreated subjects, those with white-coat hypertension (CBP ≥140/<90 mm Hg and ABP <135/<85 mm Hg) and subjects with normal BP (CBP <140/<90 mm Hg and ABP <135/<85 mm Hg) were at similar risk (adjusted hazard rate: 1.17 [95% CI: 0.87–1.57]; P=0.29). Furthermore, in treated subjects with isolated systolic hypertension, the cardiovascular risk was similar in elevated conventional and normal daytime systolic BP as compared with those with normal conventional and normal daytime BPs (adjusted hazard rate: 1.10 [95% CI: 0.79–1.53]; P=0.57). However, both treated isolated systolic hypertension subjects with white-coat hypertension (adjusted hazard rate: 2.00; [95% CI: 1.43–2.79]; P<0.0001) and treated subjects with normal BP (adjusted hazard rate: 1.98 [95% CI: 1.49–2.62]; P<0.0001) were at higher risk as compared with untreated normotensive subjects. In conclusion, subjects with sustained hypertension who have their ABP normalized on antihypertensive therapy but with residual white-coat effect by CBP measurement have an entity that we have termed, “treated normalized hypertension.” Therefore, one should be cautious in applying the term “white-coat hypertension” to persons receiving antihypertensive treatment.
PMCID: PMC3607330  PMID: 22252396
isolated systolic hypertension; ambulatory blood pressure; white-coat hypertension; white-coat effect; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology
19.  Outcome-Driven Thresholds for Home Blood Pressure Measurement 
Hypertension  2012;61(1):27-34.
The lack of outcome-driven operational thresholds limits the clinical application of home blood pressure (BP) measurement. Our objective was to determine an outcome-driven reference frame for home BP measurement. We measured home and clinic BP in 6470 participants (mean age, 59.3 years; 56.9% women; 22.4% on antihypertensive treatment) recruited in Ohasama, Japan (n=2520); Montevideo, Uruguay (n=399); Tsurugaya, Japan (n=811); Didima, Greece (n=665); and nationwide in Finland (n=2075). In multivariable-adjusted analyses of individual subject data, we determined home BP thresholds, which yielded 10-year cardiovascular risks similar to those associated with stages 1 (120/80 mm Hg) and 2 (130/85 mm Hg) prehypertension, and stages 1 (140/90 mm Hg) and 2 (160/100 mm Hg) hypertension on clinic measurement. During 8.3 years of follow-up (median), 716 cardiovascular end points, 294 cardiovascular deaths, 393 strokes, and 336 cardiac events occurred in the whole cohort; in untreated participants these numbers were 414, 158, 225, and 194, respectively. In the whole cohort, outcome-driven systolic/diastolic thresholds for the home BP corresponding with stages 1 and 2 prehypertension and stages 1 and 2 hypertension were 121.4/77.7, 127.4/79.9, 133.4/82.2, and 145.4/86.8 mm Hg; in 5018 untreated participants, these thresholds were 118.5/76.9, 125.2/79.7, 131.9/82.4, and 145.3/87.9 mm Hg, respectively. Rounded thresholds for stages 1 and 2 prehypertension and stages 1 and 2 hypertension amounted to 120/75, 125/80, 130/85, and 145/90 mm Hg, respectively. Population-based outcome-driven thresholds for home BP are slightly lower than those currently proposed in hypertension guidelines. Our current findings could inform guidelines and help clinicians in diagnosing and managing patients.
PMCID: PMC3607331  PMID: 23129700
home blood pressure measurement; blood pressure; hypertension; epidemiology; thresholds
20.  Home Blood Pressure Variability as Cardiovascular Risk Factor in the Population of Ohasama 
Hypertension  2012;61(1):61-69.
Blood pressure variability based on office measurement predicts outcome in selected patients. We explored whether novel indices of blood pressure variability derived from the self-measured home blood pressure predicted outcome in a general population. We monitored mortality and stroke in 2421 Ohasama residents (Iwate Prefecture, Japan). At enrollment (1988–1995), participants (mean age, 58.6 years; 60.9% women; 27.1% treated) measured their blood pressure at home, using an oscillometric device. In multivariable-adjusted Cox models, we assessed the independent predictive value of the within-subject mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) and corresponding variability as estimated by variability independent of the mean, difference between maximum and minimum blood pressure, and average real variability. Over 12.0 years (median), 412 participants died, 139 of cardiovascular causes, and 223 had a stroke. In models including morning SBP, variability independent of the mean and average real variability (median, 26 readings) predicted total and cardiovascular mortality in all of the participants (P≤0.044); variability independent of the mean predicted cardiovascular mortality in treated (P=0.014) but not in untreated (P=0.23) participants; and morning maximum and minimum blood pressure did not predict any end point (P≥0.085). In models already including evening SBP, only variability independent of the mean predicted cardiovascular mortality in all and in untreated participants (P≤0.046). The R2 statistics, a measure for the incremental risk explained by adding blood pressure variability to models already including SBP and covariables, ranged from <0.01% to 0.88%. In a general population, new indices of blood pressure variability derived from home blood pressure did not incrementally predict outcome over and beyond mean SBP.
PMCID: PMC3607332  PMID: 23172933
blood pressure variability; variability independent of the mean index; average real variability; general population; home blood pressure; risk factors
21.  Risk Stratification by 24-Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate in 5322 Subjects From 11 Populations 
Hypertension  2012;61(1):18-26.
No previous study addressed whether in the general population estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR [Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration formula]) adds to the prediction of cardiovascular outcome over and beyond ambulatory blood pressure. We recorded health outcomes in 5322 subjects (median age, 51.8 years; 43.1% women) randomly recruited from 11 populations, who had baseline measurements of 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure (ABP24) and eGFR. We computed hazard ratios using multivariable-adjusted Cox regression. Median follow-up was 9.3 years. In fully adjusted models, which included both ABP24 and eGFR, ABP24 predicted (P≤0.008) both total (513 deaths) and cardiovascular (206) mortality; eGFR only predicted cardiovascular mortality (P=0.012). Furthermore, ABP24 predicted (P≤0.0056) fatal combined with nonfatal events as a result of all cardiovascular causes (555 events), cardiac disease (335 events), or stroke (218 events), whereas eGFR only predicted the composite cardiovascular end point and stroke (P≤0.035). The interaction terms between ABP24 and eGFR were all nonsignificant (P≥0.082). For cardiovascular mortality, the composite cardiovascular end point, and stroke, ABP24 added 0.35%, 1.17%, and 1.00% to the risk already explained by cohort, sex, age, body mass index, smoking and drinking, previous cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and antihypertensive drug treatment. Adding eGFR explained an additional 0.13%, 0.09%, and 0.14%, respectively. Sensitivity analyses stratified for ethnicity, sex, and the presence of hypertension or chronic kidney disease (eGFR <60 mL/min per 1.73 m2) were confirmatory. In conclusion, in the general population, eGFR predicts fewer end points than ABP24. Relative to ABP24, eGFR is as an additive, not a multiplicative, risk factor and refines risk stratification 2- to 14-fold less.
PMCID: PMC3607362  PMID: 23172928
ambulatory blood pressure; population science; renal function; cardiovascular risk factors; epidemiology
22.  The International Database of HOme blood pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO): moving from baseline characteristics to research perspectives 
The objective of this study is to construct an International Database of HOme blood pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO). The main goal of this database is to determine outcome-based diagnostic thresholds for the self-measured home blood pressure (BP). Secondary objectives include investigating the predictive value of white-coat and masked hypertension, morning and evening BP, BP and heart rate variability, and the home arterial stiffness index. We also aim to determine an optimal schedule for home BP measurements that provides the most accurate risk stratification. Eligible studies are population-based, have fatal as well as nonfatal outcomes available for analysis, comply with ethical standards, and have been previously published in peer-reviewed journals. In a meta-analysis based on individual subject data, composite and cause-specific cardiovascular events will be related to various indexes derived by home BP measurement. The analyses will be stratified by a cohort and adjusted for the clinic BP and established cardiovascular risk factors. The database includes 6753 subjects from five cohorts recruited in Ohasama, Japan (n = 2777); Finland (n = 2075); Tsurugaya, Japan (n = 836); Didima, Greece (n = 665); and Montevideo, Uruguay (n = 400). In these five cohorts, during a total of 62 106 person-years of follow-up (mean 9.2 years), 852 subjects died and 740 participants experienced a fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular event. IDHOCO provides a unique opportunity to investigate several hypotheses that could not reliably be studied in individual studies. The results of these analyses should be of help to clinicians involved in the management of patients with suspected or established hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3606707  PMID: 22763485
BP measurement; epidemiology; home; self-measurement
23.  Steroid Biosynthesis and Renal Excretion in Human Essential Hypertension: Association With Blood Pressure and Endogenous Ouabain 
American journal of hypertension  2009;22(4):357-363.
Endogenous ouabain (EO) has been linked with long-term changes in sodium balance and cardiovascular structure and function. The biosynthesis of EO involves, cholesterol side-chain cleavage (CYP11A1), 3-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD3B) with sequential metabolism of pregnenolone and progesterone. Furthermore, the renal excretion of cardiac glycosides is mediated by the organic anion transporter (SLCO4C1) at the basolateral membrane and the P-glycoprotein (PGP) (encoded by MDR1) at the apical membrane of the nephron.
Average 24-h ambulatory blood pressures were recorded in 729 untreated essential hypertensives. Aldosterone (Aldo), EO, urinary Na+, and K+ excretions were determined. Single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and haplotype-based association study was performed with a total of 26 informative SNPs.
Plasma EO was significantly directly related to both day (r = 0.131, P < 0.01) and nighttime diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (r = 0.143, P < 0.01), and remained significantly related after correction for confounders (sex, body mass index, age). Genotype analysis for EO levels and daytime DBP gave significant results for CYP11A1 rs11638442 and MDR1 rs1045642 (T/C Ile1145) in which the minor allele tracked with higher EO levels (T/T 210.3 (147–272) vs. C/C 270.7 (193–366) pmol/l, P < 0.001). Association was found between HSD3B1 polymorphisms and/or haplotypes with blood pressure (systolic blood pressure (SBP) 140.3 (11.7) vs. 143.8 (11.2) mm Hg, P < 0.01) and plasma Aldo (P < 0.05). Haplotype-based analyses support the data of SNP analysis.
Among patients with essential hypertension, cholesterol side-chain cleavage and MDR1 loci are related to circulating EO and DBP, most likely by influencing EO synthesis and transmembrane transport, respectively. In contrast, variants in HSD3B1 are related with SBP probably via Aldo.
PMCID: PMC3518306  PMID: 19197249
24.  Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Assessment of Arterial Stiffening with Age in European and Chinese Populations 
As arteries become stiffer with aging, reflected waves move faster and augment late systolic pressure. Few studies have described the age-related changes in both peripheral and central systolic blood pressures in populations. We investigated the age dependency of peripheral (pSBP) and central (cSBP) systolic pressure and pressure amplification (i.e., difference between peripheral and central SBP) in randomly selected participants from European and Chinese populations. Data were collected in 1420 Europeans (mean age, 41.7 years) and 2044 (mean age, 45.1 years) Chinese. In cross-sectional analyses of the population samples cSBP consistently increased more with age than pSBP with the age-related increases being greater in women than men. Repeat assessment of pSBP and cSBP in 398 Europeans and 699 Chinese at a median interval approximately 4 years of follow-up confirmed that also within subjects cSBP rose steeper with aging than pSBP. In conclusion, with aging, pSBP approximates to cSBP. This might explain why in older subjects pSBP becomes the main predictor of cardiovascular complications.
PMCID: PMC3375628  PMID: 22715330
aging; central blood pressure; peripheral blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; risk factors; epidemiology
25.  Progress report on the first sub-Saharan Africa trial of newer versus older antihypertensive drugs in native black patients 
Trials  2012;13:59.
The epidemic surge in hypertension in sub-Saharan Africa is not matched by clinical trials of antihypertensive agents in Black patients recruited in this area of the world. We mounted the Newer versus Older Antihypertensive agents in African Hypertensive patients (NOAAH) trial to compare, in native African patients, a single-pill combination of newer drugs, not involving a diuretic, with a combination of older drugs including a diuretic.
Patients aged 30 to 69 years with uncomplicated hypertension (140 to 179/90 to 109 mmHg) and ≤2 associated risk factors are eligible. After a four week run-in period off treatment, 180 patients have to be randomized to once daily bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide 5/6.25 mg (R) or amlodipine/valsartan 5/160 mg (E). To attain blood pressure <140/<90 mmHg during six months, the doses of bisoprolol and amlodipine should be increased to 10 mg/day with the possible addition of up to 2 g/day α-methyldopa.
At the time of writing of this progress report, of 206 patients enrolled in the run-in period, 140 had been randomized. At randomization, the R and E groups were similar (P ≥ 0.11) with respect to mean age (50.7 years), body mass index (28.2 kg/m2), blood pressure (153.9/91.5 mmHg) and the proportions of women (53.6%) and treatment naïve patients (72.7%). After randomization, in the R and E groups combined, blood pressure dropped by 18.2/10.1 mmHg, 19.4/11.2 mmHg, 22.4/12.2 mmHg and 25.8/15.2 mmHg at weeks two (n = 122), four (n = 109), eight (n = 57), and 12 (n = 49), respectively. The control rate was >65% already at two weeks. At 12 weeks, 12 patients (24.5%) had progressed to the higher dose of R or E and/or had α-methyldopa added. Cohort analyses of 49 patients up to 12 weeks were confirmatory. Only two patients dropped out of the study.
NOAAH (NCT01030458) demonstrated that blood pressure control can be achieved fast in Black patients born and living in Africa with a simple regimen consisting of a single-pill combination of two antihypertensive agents. NOAAH proves that randomized clinical trials of cardiovascular drugs in the indigenous populations of sub-Saharan Africa are feasible.
PMCID: PMC3502563  PMID: 22594907
Antihypertensive therapy; Health policy and outcome research; Randomized clinical trial; Special populations

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