White Coat Syndrome is a medical condition in which your blood pressure reading taken in a hospital is higher than when it is measured at home. The term ‘white coat’ refers to the lab coats that healthcare professionals wear. The systolic pressure can actually rise or fall by 10 mmHg.
What triggers the White Coat Syndrome?
Nobody’s blood pressure remains constant; it fluctuates throughout the day. Sometimes, when you are in a hospital facility, the ambience makes you nervous or stressed. This triggers the release of cortisol and adrenal hormones that makes your blood pressure spike. As opposed to that, you are at ease in your own home. Therefore, when your pressure is taken in a familiar setting, it registers a lower number.
The White Coat effect does not affect everyone. Even among those who display it, the degree to which the systolic pressure rises or falls is not the same. In some, the difference can be as high as 30mmHg.
How to know if you show the White Coat Effect
Firstly, White Coat Syndrome affects very few people. However, if you want to find out if you are one of the few, then you can monitor your blood pressure at home. Once you come back from the hospital, check your blood pressure to see if the reading differs from the one taken at the hospital. It is normal for there to be a slight change as our blood pressure changes every other hour. If there is a significant difference, you could have White Coat Syndrome. That is why some doctors suggest round the clock monitoring so that you are familiar with your blood pressure readings.
There is no known cure for white coat syndrome. Nor is it very dangerous. However, there is the possibility of misdiagnosis and consequential wrong medication. Moreover, doctors believe that people with White Coat Syndrome are more likely to develop high blood pressure later in their lives.
White Coat Syndrome is a rare disorder but there is no reason to be alarmed. If you notice a difference in your blood pressure readings, you should contact your doctor for more information.