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Thursday, October 30, 2014 10:00 am

Is it Hypertension or “White Coat Syndrome” ?

Have you ever entered your doctor’s office feeling relaxed and well, only to be told a half hour later by the nurse that your blood pressure “seems a bit high, so we’ll take it again before you leave”? This is more common than you may think.
Is it Hypertension or "White Coat Syndrome" ?
White coat syndrome starts here
(Photo credit: Kathleen Kvilhaug)
Some people experience a phenomenon known as “white coat hypertension” or “white coat syndrome” while they are in a clinical setting. These patients are “normotensive” or have a normal blood pressure  when they are on the outside, but once they enter the walls of the medical building, their blood pressure jumps upwards.

Should “white coat syndrome” be suspected, your doctor will repeat the reading prior to your leaving the office. You may also be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home and check in with the doctor at a future date. An ambulatory blood pressure monitor may be used to monitor your blood pressure for a 24-hour period, to determine whether or not you are experiencing spikes throughout the day and night.
If your “white coat syndrome” only occurs in the clinical setting, your doctor will continue to monitor your blood pressure and may also ask you to monitor at home. There is concern that patients with “white coat syndrome” are at greater cardiovascular risk and more likely to develop high blood pressure or hypertension down the road. Therefore, it is important to keep close tabs on these patients and begin antihypertensive treatment as early as possible once it is determined necessary.