A new study suggests that white-coat hypertension is actually less common than its exact opposite: a condition known as masked hypertension, in which blood pressure measurements at the doctor’s office are actually lower than those taken at other times of the day. Doctors may be missing a significant percentage of people who should be monitored (and potentially treated) for high blood pressure, the authors say, especially among young, normal-weight patients.
For the new study, published yesterday in the journal Circulation, researchers from Stony Brook University and Columbia University recruited 888 healthy men and women with an average age of 45. They asked participants to wear a portable blood pressure cuff for 24 hours as they went about their daily activities to monitor their ambulatory (around-the-clock) blood pressure. Multiple blood pressure readings were also taken during three separate visits to a clinic to represent measurements taken in a doctor’s-office setting.