Journal of hypertension vol:12 issue:9 pages:1035-9
OBJECTIVE: This long-term study investigated the widely accepted hypothesis that ambulatory pressure does not decrease in patients given placebo. METHODS: One hundred and twelve older (> or = 60 years) outpatients with isolated systolic hypertension were recruited. Treatment consisted of a placebo during a 3-month baseline period and long-term follow-up. RESULTS: At baseline, on placebo treatment, clinic systolic/diastolic (SBP/DBP) blood pressure (+/- SD) averaged 176 +/- 12/86 +/- 7 mmHg and 24-h SBP/DBP 151 +/- 15/81 +/- 10 mmHg. These pressures were unaltered in 51 patients in whom the baseline measurements were repeated after a further month on placebo. After the 112 patients had received placebo for 1 year (median), clinic SBP/DBP fell by 6.6 +/- 15.9 (P < 0.001)/1.4 +/- 7.4 (P = 0.06)mmHg and 24-h SBP by 2.4 +/- 10.7 mmHg (P < 0.05), whereas 24-h DBP did not change significantly. The 24-h SBP decreased more with higher baseline level and longer follow-up (5-21 months). CONCLUSIONS: These findings in older patients with isolated systolic hypertension suggest that in long-term studies the ambulatory pressure may slightly but significantly decrease on a placebo. Like those using conventional sphygmomanometry, long-term studies using non-invasive ambulatory monitoring require a placebo-controlled design.