White coat hypertension is a condition characterized by a person exhibiting high blood pressure when checked by a doctor in a clinical setting but not in most other environments.
It is often difficult to find out if someone has white coat hypertension without a self-administered blood pressure test. Someone with white coat hypertension may not experience all of the negative side effects of usual high blood pressure, but they are still at greater risk than someone with constant and normal blood pressure.
According to Blood Pressure Canada, white coat hypertension is usually brought on by stress or anxiety surrounding the doctor's office. This anxiety elevates the blood pressure above regular levels just in time for the reading, and may not provide an accurate picture of your body's current condition.
You might not even realize that you're anxious about going to the doctor, as it could just be an unconscious reaction to the situation at hand.
If you or your doctor suspect that you have white coat hypertension, your doctor may ask that your blood pressure be monitored at home for 24 hours to see how much of your day is spent with high blood pressure.
You may suspect that you have white coat hypertension if you have moderately raised blood pressure. It is unlikely that individuals who appear to have very high blood pressure have white coat hypertension, since such a drastic difference would rarely ever occur.
If doctors find that your blood pressure is high enough for a sufficiently long period of time, they may put you on a regular treatment program for hypertension. If you suspect that you have white coat hypertension because the doctor’s readings differ than your self-administered tests at home, it is important that you bring it up lest you be prescribed medication to treat a non-existent condition. It's best to cooperate with your doctor and work with them to determine what is the best treatment plan for you, for either white coat hypertension or the full-fledged condition.