In a new study, researchers found that untreated ‘white coat hypertension’ can greatly increase the risk of heart disease.
They found that people with this condition are twice as likely to die from heart disease.
The research was led by a team from Penn Medicine.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as a top reading of at least 130 or a bottom one of 80.
The condition can increase one’s risk for severe complications, including heart attack and stroke.
White coat hypertension is a condition in which a patient’s blood pressure readings are higher when taken at the doctor’s office compared to other settings.
It is estimated that about 20% of adults may have white coat hypertension.
It was originally attributed to the anxiety patients may experience during their medical examination.
But recent research has shown the increased blood pressure readings may be a sign of future health problems.
In the new study, the team did a review of 27 studies, which involved more than 60,000 patients.
They found that patients with untreated white coat hypertension not only have a higher risk of heart disease, but also they are twice as likely to die from heart disease.
These patients had a 36% increased risk of heart disease, 33% increased risk of death and 109% increased risk of death from heart disease.
However, patients with white coat hypertension who were taking medication to treat their high blood pressure did not have an increased risk of heart disease.
The researchers say that people with white coat hypertension but not taking blood pressure medications need to be closely monitored to see if they will develop sustained high blood pressure.
To diagnose and manage high blood pressure, it is important to do out-of-office blood pressure monitoring, such as at-home monitoring.
Future work needs to find effective interventions to reduce the cardiac risk of white coat hypertension.
The lead author of the study is Jordana B. Cohen, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor in the division of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension.
The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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