Newswise — Masked hypertension is defined as non-elevated blood pressure in the clinical setting but elevated blood pressure recorded by around the clock (ambulatory) monitoring. Masked hypertension is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, organ damage, and mortality. A new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that uses data and methods to reflect the American population, reveals that the U.S. prevalence of masked hypertension – among those who have normal blood pressure in the clinic, are not taking blood pressure lowering medicines, and have never had a heart attack or stroke – is 12.3 percent. Based on the U.S. population, this translates to approximately 17.1 million people, or 1 in 8 adults over the age of 21 years.

Lead investigator and author Joseph Schwartz, PhD, of Stony Brook University, says the study is the first to estimate the prevalence of masked hypertension in the United States and may inform new guidelines to identify patients with high blood pressure and improve preventive methods against the dangers and consequences of hypertension.

The researchers linked data from the Masked Hypertension Study, conducted at Stony Brook University and Columbia University and published in Circulation last fall, with data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).