Features November 2009 Issue

“Masked” and “White-Coat” Hypertension Could Signal More Serious Complications

Experiencing temporary spikes in blood pressure may put you at greater risk of cardiac events.

People with "masked" or "white-coat" hypertension arenít safe simply because they donít experience the type of sustained high blood pressure that warrants a variety of daily medications and raises the risks of heart attack, stroke and other complications. According to recent research in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, both conditions significantly raise the risk of sustained hypertension. In white-coat hypertension, a patientís blood pressure is only elevated in the doctorís office, but not in everyday life. With masked hypertension, a patient may have normal blood pressure in a doctorís office, but experience spikes at other times. "For people with either masked or white-coat hypertension, the true test is a 24-hour blood pressure monitor," says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist and hypertension expert Donald Vidt, MD. "And the awake, daytime blood pressure is probably the biggest key to cardiovascular risk."

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