Objective: To investigate carotid atherosclerosis in individuals with masked hypertension (MHT) and white-coat hypertension (WCHT) in a general population.
Methods: Self-measurement of blood pressure at home (HBP) and casual blood pressure (CBP) measurements were recorded in 812 individuals aged at least 55 years (mean 66.4 years) from the general Japanese population. The intima–media thickness (IMT) of the near and far wall of both common carotid arteries was measured and averaged. The relationships between carotid atherosclerosis (IMT and plaque) and the four blood pressure groups (sustained normal blood pressure: HBP < 135/85 mmHg, CBP < 140/90 mmHg; WCHT: HBP < 135/85 mmHg, CBP ≥ 140/90 mmHg; MHT: HBP ≥ 135/85 mmHg, CBP < 140/90 mmHg; sustained hypertension: HBP ≥ 135/85 mmHg, CBP ≥ 140/90 mmHg) were examined using multivariate analysis adjusted for possible confounding factors.
Results: Adjusted IMT in individuals with sustained hypertension [0.77 mm; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.75 to 0.79 mm] and MHT (0.77 mm; 95% CI 0.73 to 0.80 mm) was significantly greater than in those with sustained normal blood pressure (0.71 mm; 95% CI 0.69 to 0.72 mm) and WCHT (0.72 mm; 95% CI 0.71 to 0.74 mm) (P < 0.0001). The odds ratios for the presence of plaques in all four groups were similar to the trends in IMT.
Conclusions: Our findings imply that CBP measurements alone are insufficient to distinguish individuals at high risk of carotid atherosclerosis from those at low risk. However, these individuals do have distinct HBP measurements, suggesting that HBP measurement could become a valuable tool for predicting carotid atherosclerosis.