Engineering and governmental challenge: 7-Day/24-hour chronobiologic blood pressure and heart rate screening: Part I

Franz Halberg, Germaine G Cornelissen-Guillaume, Dan Wall, Kuniaki Otsuka, Julia Halberg, George Katinas, Yoshihiko Watanabe, Max Halhuber, Thomas Müller Bohn, Patrick Delmore, Jarmila Siegelova, Pavel Homolka, Bohumil Fiser, Jiri Dusek, Salvador Sánchez De la Peña, Cristina Maggioni, Anatoly Delyukov, Yuri Gorgo, Denis Gubin, Franca CarandenteErwin Schaffer, Nelson L Rhodus, Katarina Borer, Robert P. Sonkowsky, Othild Schwartzkopff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


This review provides evidence that the bioengineering community needs to develop cost-effective, fully unobtrusive, truly ambulatory instrumentation for the surveillance of blood pressure and heart rate. With available instrumentation, we document a disease risk syndrome, circadian blood pressure over-swinging (CHAT, short for circadian hyper-amplitude-tension). Circadian hyper-amplitude-tension is defined as a week-long overall increase in the circadian amplitude or otherwise-measured circadian variability of blood pressure above a mapped threshold, corresponding to the upper 95% prediction limit of clinically healthy peers of the corresponding gender and age. A consistently reduced heart rate variability, gauged by a circadian standard deviation below the lower 5% prediction limit of peers of the corresponding gender and age, is an index of a separate yet additive major risk, a deficient heart rate variability (DHRV). The circadian amplitude, a measure of the extent of reproducible variability within a day, is obtained by linear curve-fitting, which yields added parameters: a midline-estimating statistic of rhythm, the MESOR (a time structure or chronome-adjusted mean), the circadian acrophase, a measure of timing of overall high values recurring in each cycle, and the amplitudes and acrophases of the 12-hour (and higher order) harmonic(s) of the circadian variation that, with the characteristics of the fundamental 24-hour component, describe the circadian waveform. The MESOR is a more precise and more accurate estimate of location than the arithmetic mean. The major risks associated with CHAT and/or DHRV have been documented by measurements of blood pressure and heart rate at 1-hour or shorter intervals for 48 hours on populations of several hundred people, but these risks are to be assessed in a 7-day/24-hour record in individuals before a physical examination, for the following reasons. (1) The average derived from an around-the-clock series of blood pressure measurements, computed as its MESOR, the proven etiopathogenetic factor of catastrophic vascular disease, can be above chronobiologic as well as World Health Organization limits for 5 days or longer and can be satisfactory for months thereafter, as validated by continued automatic monitoring. The MESOR can be interpreted in light of clock-hour-, gender, and age-specified reference limits and thus can be more reliably estimated with a systematic account of major sources of variability than by casual time-unspecified spot checks (that conventionally are interpreted by a fixed and, thus, rhythm, gender-, and age-ignoring limit). With spot checks, in a diagnostically critical range of "borderline" blood pressures, an inference can depend on the clock-hour of the measurement, usually providing a diagnosis of normotension in the morning and of hypertension in the afternoon (for the same diurnally active, nocturnally resting patient!). Long-term treatment must not be based upon the possibility of an afternoon vs a morning appointment. Moreover, the conventional approach will necessarily miss cases of CHAT that are not accompanied by MESOR hypertension. (2) Circadian hyper-amplitude-tension indicates a greater risk for stroke than does an increase in the around-the-clock average blood pressure (above 130/80 mm Hg) or old age, whereas (3) CHAT can be asymptomatic, as can MESOR hypertension. (4) Deficient heart rate variability, the fall below a threshold of the circadian standard deviation of heart rate, an entity in its own right, is also a chronome alteration of heart rate variability (CAHRV). Deficient heart rate variability can be present together with CHAT, doubling the relative risk of morbid events. In each case - either combined with CHAT or as an isolated CAHRV - a DHRV constitutes an independent diagnostic assessment provided as a dividend by current blood pressure monitors that should be kept in future instrumentation designs. CHAT and DHRV can be screened by systematic focus on variability, preferably by the use of automatic instrumentation and analyses, which are both available (affordably) for research in actual practice, in conjunction with the Halberg Chronobiology Center at the University of Minnesota (e-mail address:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-122
Number of pages34
JournalBiomedical Instrumentation and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


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