White Coat Syndrome can be defined as the presence of a defined hypertensive average blood pressure in a clinic setting, although it isn't present when the patient is at home.
Some people find that their blood pressure is normal at home, but rises slightly when they’re at the doctor. This is known as white coat syndrome, or the white coat effect. The syndrome gets its name from doctors and medical staff who sometimes wear white coats in a professional setting.
A healthy blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mm Hg. Anything above this is considered high blood pressure.
White coat syndrome may make your blood pressure read higher than it normally is, and the effect isn’t always a minor issue of doctor-associated anxiety. For some people, white coat syndrome could be a sign of a more serious blood pressure condition.
White coat hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs at your doctor’s office or in a medical setting, but not in other settings. Regular hypertension is high blood pressure that occurs in many scenarios, not just a medical one.
Among those with high blood pressure at the doctor’s office, 15 to 30 percent of them may actually have white coat hypertension. Experiencing the white coat effect doesn’t mean you have more general hypertension.
Likewise, some people with hypertension don’t always experience high blood pressure at the doctor’s office.
This second condition is called masked hypertension. It occurs when your blood pressure reading is within a normal range at your doctor’s office but is higher in other settings. Learn more about understanding your blood pressure reading.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience a bit of anxiety when they visit a medical office. This increased anxiety can ratchet up your blood pressure numbers.
White coat hypertension causes temporary increases in your blood pressure. While it might not seem serious if it occurs only occasionally, some doctors believe white coat hypertension could be a forerunner of real hypertension. In fact, one study found that people with white coat hypertension had an increased risk of:
stroke, heart attack, heart failure, other cardiovascular conditions.
Another study found that death from heart disease was strongly associated with white coat hypertension.
For these reasons, reaching a diagnosis and deciding if you need treatment for your elevated blood pressure is important.