White Coat Syndrome – How we can help?

24 April 2019

White Coat Syndrome, also known as White Coat Hypertension or the White Coat Effect, describes a patient experiencing high blood pressure and anxiety when in a clinical situation. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 8 patients experience the symptoms of White Coat Syndrome.

As well as being potentially upsetting for patients, increased blood pressure as the result of White Coat Syndrome could mean procedures or treatments being postponed or cancelled where a higher blood pressure reading indicates a potential risk.

What’s White Coat Syndrome?

White Coat Syndrome describes a patient experiencing high blood pressure when in a clinical situation.
Smiling consultant checks a patient's blood pressure

White Coat Syndrome treatment and help

At Practice Plus Group Hospitals, we do all we can to help alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety within these clinical situations. This could include:

  1. If a patient is known to be anxious around medical professionals, a member of staff within the hospital can help them become familiar with the layout of the hospital. This would be arranged in advance of the patient’s operation.
  2. We can arrange for the patient to meet the doctors and nurses who will treat them. They are then familiar with the team before their treatment begins.
  3. If a patient experiences a rise in blood pressure during an appointment, a member of the nursing team can take them to a quieter environment and check their blood pressure again. Once the patient relaxes, their blood pressure will lower into a safe range, and their treatment can proceed.
  4. In some instances, we may prescribe blood pressure medication prior to the patient’s procedure. This will be done in collaboration with the patient’s GP.
  5. We can further accommodate anxious patients by moving them into a quieter environment or by arranging for their surgery to be performed at a later time.

In many cases, the effects of White Coat Syndrome can be alleviated, enabling patients to go ahead with their treatment or procedure.

White Coat Syndrome stories

Retired delivery driver Mr Thomas MacDonald developed White Coat Syndrome some years ago when he had been told he could die under anaesthesia. Find out how one of our NHS Treatment Centres helped him overcome White Coat Syndrome and undergo hernia repair surgery.