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Aten Primaria. 2001 Sep 15;28(4):234-40.

[Variations in the prevalence and patient profile of white-coat syndrome, according to its definition using self-measurement of blood pressure at home].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Centro de Salud Gamonal Antigua, Unidad Docente de Medicina de Familia y Comunitaria. Burgos, Especialista en Medicina Familiar y Comunitaria, Burgos, Spain.



To calculate the prevalence of white-coat syndrome (WCS) in patients with hypertension, comparing the two most common definitions and their effect on the profile of the patient with WCS.


Cross-sectional, descriptive study.Setting. Urban health centre.Patients. Hypertense patients selected by simple randomised sampling from among those included in the hypertension programme.


Clinical blood pressure (CBP) from the previous year was collected. Home blood pressure (HBP) was measured by the patient with an electronic sphygmomanometer. Age, sex, further tests (analysis and electrocardiogram) and other clinical features were also recorded. WCS was defined as when CBP was above/equal to 140/90 mmHg and HBP was under 135/85 mmHg or when the difference between CBP and HBP was more than/equal to 20 mmHg systolic and/or 10 mmHg diastolic pressure.


In 154 hypertense patients (60.4% women) between 38 and 92 years old, mean CBP (141.1/85.3) was higher than mean HBP (136.8/79.8). WCS prevalence varied (p = 0.001), depending on the definition used (20.1% and 36.4%). The systolic and diastolic mean CBP of the last year were higher in those patients with WCS (p < 0.001 for diastolic pressure). The profile of hypertense patients with WCS varied according to the definition used.


WCS is common in hypertense patients treated in Primary Care and may condition an inadequate assessment of the degree of blood pressure monitoring. As the way of defining WCS conditions its prevalence, its profile and clinical decision-taking, it is essential to agree a uniform definition for practical use.

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