White-Coat Hypertension: A Closer Look

Health care professionals are likely familiar with the phenomenon known as white coat hypertension (WCH). Within the past 10-20 years there has been considerable debate over the clinical and practical significance of this condition and whether or not it’s indicative of a long-term problem.

Anecdotally, I remember when we learned about WCH in pharmacy school our instructor was skeptical about its prevalence and significance and instead viewed it more as an excuse patients will present for their uncontrolled hypertension. In reality, the literature suggests this is a much more common and potentially worrisome problem than many people realize.

White-Coat Hypertension: A Closer Look

This article will cover everything you need to know about WCH from diagnosis, treatment, and a comprehensive review of the literature.


WCH is a condition when blood pressure readings taken in a medical setting are higher than when they are taken in other settings, such as the home. This is believed to occur in some individuals due to increased anxiety or stress experienced during a medical visit.1

The 2017 ACC/AHA blood pressure guidelines identify 3 predominate forms of hypertension: