Background: Whether white-coat hypertension (WCH) is an innocent phenomenon is controversial.
Method: In this study, we evaluated the association of WCH and the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and mortality, stratified by baseline antihypertensive treatment status. Databases (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, and Google Scholar) were searched for prospective studies with data on CVD and total mortality associated with WCH. The primary outcomes were the risk of CVD and total mortality associated with WCH stratified by antihypertensive treatment status. The relative risks of events compared with normotension were calculated.
Results: A total of 23 cohorts (20 445 individuals), 11 cohorts (8656 individuals), and 12 cohorts (21 336 individuals) were included for analysis of cardiovascular risk associated with WCH in patients without baseline antihypertensive treatment (untreated), or under antihypertensive treatment (treated) or mixed population (including both untreated and treated patients), respectively. In untreated cohorts, WCH was associated with a 38 and 20% increased risk of CVD and total mortality compared with normotension, respectively. In the mixed population, WCH was associated with a 19 and 50% increased risk of CVD and total mortality. However, in the treated patients, neither the risk of CVD, nor total mortality was increased in WCH. Meta-regression analyses indicated that neither differences of clinic blood pressure, nor out-of-office blood pressure variables were correlated with risk of CVD in WCH.
Conclusion: We concluded that WCH is associated with long-term risk of CVD and total mortality in patients without antihypertensive treatment. Close follow-up should be performed in WCH patients.