A study found that white coat hypertension — a common condition where patients have high blood pressure readings in a medical setting but normal levels outside the doctor’s office — is most likely harmless for most.
Identified more than 30 years ago, white coat hypertension is believed to result from the stress of a medical setting, although some research does indicate it is associated with health risks, including heart disease and stroke.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, looked at 653 patients with white coat hypertension and compared them to 653 patients of similar age and risk for developing heart disease.
During a follow-up period of about 10.6 years, there was no difference in the number of new heart-related health events between younger subjects below age 60 with normal blood pressure, and those of a similar age and risk profile.
They did, however, find a difference in older patients. Out of 92 high-risk people ages 60 and older, there were 18 more cardiovascular events in the follow-up period than in the control group.
Researchers said the results, which appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, support the theory that this small group actually has a condition known as isolated systolic hypertension, a common condition that is a risk indicator of future heart disease or stroke.
If you have white coat hypertension, make sure that multiple blood pressure readings, including those taken outside a clinical setting, are used to accurately identify your risk of cardiovascular disease.
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