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White Coat Syndrome: When the Sight of a Doctor Causes Anxiety

White Coat Syndrome happens when a patient only experiences high blood pressure within the doctor’s office/ Photo By Jean-Marie Guyon via 123RF


White Coat Syndrome, according to Health Enews, happens when a patient only experiences high blood pressure within the doctor’s office, but when away from the doctor’s office, their blood pressure is normal. A person’s fear of the presence of a physician may lead to an increase in blood pressure. This condition is also known as White Coat Hypertension, White Coat Effect, and Isolated Clinic Hypertension.

Healthline states that the normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. This condition may not only be associated with one’s apprehension at the sight of a doctor. In some cases, it may be a warning that someone is suffering from a more severe condition of blood pressure.


When an individual has to go to a medical clinic, they may experience anxiety or nervousness. This anxiety may provoke a rise in their blood pressure. This may only be a momentary rise.

White Coat Syndrome may actually be an indicator of real hypertension. A research shows that those who are affected by this health condition are also prone to acquiring other cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. In connection to this, heart disease was revealed to be connected to White Coat Syndrome.


White Coat Syndrome may actually be an indicator of real hypertension/ Photo By Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF


This may also be related to factors that may trigger hypertension such as old age, smoking, drinking alcohol, being obese, consuming too much salt, suffering from thyroid disorders, having kidney disease, being affected by sleep apnea, biological factors such as having a previous family record of high blood pressure, genetics, having a kidney disease, living a high-stress lifestyle and not engaging in enough physical activities.

According to a study published in the journal Hypertension, 15%-30% of people who experience high blood pressure in the office of a doctor have the possibility of suffering from this health condition.

How to Cope with White Coat Syndrome

To be able to deal with this clinical condition, a patient may try to:

Take a moment

Requesting the doctor or nurse to wait before measuring their blood pressure may help ease their anxiety.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Patients are advised to look for strategies that could help them calm down. For instance, they may try breathing techniques by breathing deeply and exhaling slowly. Remembering poems or verses may also help them relax more.

Another example would be involving their senses when counting. They may count three things which are visible to them, two things they are able to listen to and one thing they are able to hold.


Learning to be able to stress and anxiety levels may greatly help the doctors get an accurate reading of their blood pressure/ Photo By dolgachov via 123RF


Go somewhere else

Being in a crowded office area may cause their anxiety to worsen. Asking the doctor or nurse if they could transfer to a more peaceful and less cramped part of the hospital or office may aid in getting the proper reading for their blood pressure.

Change the topic

The patient may try to divert their attention from the blood pressure assessment to converse with the doctor. Some people may actually feel calmer if they just sit still and remain silent. They may do whichever makes them feel more comfortable.

Hypertension Diagnosis

Medical News Today says that being able to identify if someone has White Coat Syndrome may be complicated, since it is hard to get the exact blood pressure reading. If the first reading is above the healthy blood pressure, the doctor may tell them to return to the office after a few weeks so that they could measure their blood pressure again. Another visit to the hospital may put them at risk of experiencing another increase in their blood pressure.

The doctor may also advise them to keep track of their blood pressure readings at home with the help of a blood pressure monitor or an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, a device which they can put on for a day or two. This can record their blood pressure levels at different times. It is up to the patient which machines to use. This will enable them to measure their blood pressure without leaving their home. After measuring their blood pressure, they may send their doctor the blood pressure readings.


It may be difficult to get a proper blood pressure reading for someone who is affected by White Coat Syndrome in identifying if it has become full-blown hypertension.  Learning to be able to stress and anxiety levels may greatly help the doctors get an accurate reading of their blood pressure.

Doctors would usually avoid prescribing patients who are affected by this condition with medicine, because if they do it cause it to complicate even more. Giving the patient chemical medicine may cause them to have hypotension, the opposite of hypertension, where their blood pressure levels decrease significantly.

Since having White Coat Syndrome may also develop into other cardiovascular diseases, patients are strongly advised to immediately seek a doctor’s help. Once they have consulted a doctor, they may either be asked to measure their blood levels at home or be sent to a blood pressure clinic to undergo several blood examinations for a certain duration.



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