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Health Center Today, March 24, 2010

Hypertension Expert Explores 'Risk of Waking Up'

By Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Dr. William B. White

Dr. William B. White

Dr. William B. White, professor of medicine and division chief of hypertension and pharmacology in the Calhoun Cardiology Center, has published an expert commentary about the impact of the increase in blood pressure that occurs when we awake. The Risk of Waking Up appears in the April 1 issue of the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

White evaluated research from an international database published in the same issue that studied a larger and more diverse population for a longer period of time compared to previous studies. The research looked at the relationship between a morning increase in blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. Patients whose systolic blood pressure rose by more than 20 mm Hg after awakening were significantly more likely to have a future heart attack, stroke, or develop congestive heart failure.

"Now that there is better characterization of the evidence linking an exaggerated morning BP surge of 28 to 37 mm Hg to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, it seems reasonable to consider targeting this time of day with antihypertensive drug therapy," White writes.

The most common part of the day for the onset of acute events such as heart attack and stroke is the first six hours after awakening.