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BMJ. 1998 Aug 29;317(7158):565-70.

Changes in left ventricular structure and function in patients with white coat hypertension: cross sectional survey.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin II, University of Regensburg, D-93042 Regensburg, Germany.



To assess the relation between white coat hypertension and alterations of left ventricular structure and function.


Cross sectional survey.


Augsburg, Germany.


1677 subjects, aged 25 to 74 years, who participated in an echocardiographic substudy of the monitoring of trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease Augsburg study during 1994-5.


Blood pressure measurements and M mode, two dimensional, and Doppler echocardiography. After at least 30 minutes' rest blood pressure was measured three times by a technician, and once by a physician after echocardiography. Subjects were classified as normotensive (technician <140/90 mm Hg, physician <160/95 mm Hg; n=849), white coat hypertensive (technician <140/90 mm Hg, physician >=160/95 mm Hg; n=160), mildly hypertensive (technician >=140/90 mm Hg, physician <160/95 mm Hg; n=129), and sustained hypertensive (taking antihypertensive drugs or blood pressure measured by a technician >=140/90 mm Hg, and physician >=160/95 mm Hg; n=538).


White coat hypertension was more common in men than women (10.9% versus 8.2% respectively) and positively related to age and body mass index. After adjustment for these variables, white coat hypertension was associated with an increase in left ventricular mass and an increased prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy (odds ratio 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.2 to 3.2; P=0.009) compared with normotensive patients. The increase in left ventricular mass was secondary to significantly increased septal and posterior wall thicknesses whereas end diastolic diameters were similar in both groups with white coat hypertension or normotension. Additionally, the systolic white coat effect (difference between blood pressures recorded by a technician and physician) was associated with increased left ventricular mass and increased prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy (P<0.05 each). Values for systolic left ventricular function (M mode fractional shortening) were above normal in subjects with white coat hypertension whereas diastolic filling and left atrial size were similar to those in normotension.


About 10% of the general population show exaggerated inotropic and blood pressure responses when mildly stressed. This is associated with an increased risk of left ventricular hypertrophy.

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