Closer look at white-coat hypertension

World J Methodol. 2014 Sep 26;4(3):144-50. doi: 10.5662/wjm.v4.i3.144.


This review aims to clarify novel concepts regarding the clinical and laboratory aspects of white-coat hypertension (WCHT). Recent studies on the clinical and biological implications of WCHT were compared with existing knowledge. Studies were included if the WCHT patients were defined according to the 2013 European Society of Hypertension guidelines, i.e., an office blood pressure (BP) of ≥ 140/90 mmHg, a home BP of ≤ 135/85 mmHg, and a mean 24-h ambulatory BP of ≤ 130/80 mmHg. WCHT studies published since 2000 were selected, although a few studies performed before 2000 were used for comparative purposes. True WCHT was defined as normal ABPM and home BP readings, and partial WCHT was defined as an abnormality in one of these two readings. The reported prevalence of WCHT was 15%-45%. The incidence of WCHT tended to be higher in females and in non-smokers. Compared with normotensive (NT) patients, WCHT was associated with a higher left ventricular mass index, higher lipid levels, impaired fasting glucose, and decreased arterial compliance. The circadian rhythm in WCHT patients was more variable than in NT patient's, with a higher pulse pressure and non-dipping characteristics. Compared with sustained hypertension patients, WCHT patients have a better 10-year prognosis; compared with NT patients, WCHT patients have a similar stroke risk, but receive more frequent drug treatment. There are conflicting results regarding WCHT and markers of endothelial damage, oxidative stress and inflammation, and the data imply that WCHT patients may have a worse prognosis. Nitric oxide levels are lower, and oxidative stress parameters are higher in WCHT patients than in NT patients, whereas the antioxidant capacity is lower in WCHT patients than in NT patients. Clinicians should be aware of the risk factors associated with WCHT and patients should be closely monitored especially to identify target organ damage and metabolic syndrome.

Keywords: Ambulatory blood pressure; Glucose dysregulation; Target organ damage; White-coat hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review