What Is White Coat Hypertension?

Dr Malik Explains White Coat Hypertension Syndrome

In this guide, Dr Malik explains what white coat hypertension is, why it occurs and how LCC’s cardiologists work to overcome these effects.

What is white coat hypertension?

White coat syndrome, also known as white coat hypertension is a phenomenon in which your blood pressure is artificially raised due to the stress of being in a clinic, hospital, or even just taking your own blood pressure. This usually happens due to the stress and anxiety associated with having medical investigations done. Your reading will be higher than it would be if you measured it at home. 

Why does this matter?

On average, the top (systolic) number tends to be about 10mmHg higher in a clinic than at home. The bottom numbers tend to be about 5mmHg. Some people’s blood pressure will be affected more than others –  and if you feel very worried or stressed it could be raised by as much as 30mmHg. This is problematic because it makes it harder for you to get an accurate diagnosis. White coat hypertension isn’t caused by an underlying condition – so it’s crucial we rule this out. 

Where does the term come from?

The term ‘white coat’ refers to the white coats traditionally worn by doctors in years gone by. Doctors who measure your blood pressure will usually be wearing white coats, hence the name! 

How to get an accurate reading?

  • Blood pressure needs to be taken when you are relaxed and have been sitting for a few minutes.
  • If It is high, we may repeat it a few times each with a few minutes gap.  The LOWEST blood pressure reading is the CORRECT one.
  • We might ask you to measure your blood pressure yourself away from the clinic.
  • A 24-hour blood pressure monitor can reveal the White Coat Effect and help get a better average blood pressure reading.

What blood pressure readings indicate white coat hypertension?

If your blood pressure readings are over 140/90mmHg in the clinic (the cut-off for diagnosing high blood pressure) but lower than 140/90mmHg at home – you’re likely being affected by white coat hypertension

Get your accurate blood pressure reading

If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) in the past but suspect it’s due to white coat syndrome – book your 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. You’ll get accurate readings that you simply can’t determine in a clinical setting.

Posted on 28 February 2023
Author: Dr Iqbal Malik
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