What is the white coat syndrome?

What is the white coat syndrome?

Sometimes the worst sorcerers are not in the street but inside our brains. Networks for science

It is common for us to go to a hospital service to take the most basic vital signs of the body, in order to detect a health problem: temperature, pulse, respiratory rate and blood pressure.

Nevertheless, we are not aware that if we feel predisposed to get sick or that our health condition is aggravated, our brain sends an alarm signal and generates stress which can raise our blood pressure just by thinking that things can go wrong.


  • 1 What is a white coat syndrome?
  • 2 What is white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension?
  • 3 Etiology
  • 4 Psychosocial factors
  • 5 Diagnosis
  • 6 treatments

What is a white coat syndrome?

Let's go back to the essential, a syndrome (APA, 2010) is a set of symptoms and signs that are usually due to a single cause (or set of related causes) and that indicate a particular physical or mental illness or disorder.

What is white coat syndrome or white coat hypertension?

White coat hypertension is the temporary increase in blood pressure that occurs in some people in healthcare settings: hospitals, clinics and outpatient sites. Its importance is that the measurement of blood pressure offers abnormally high values, which do not correspond to the actual blood pressure figures, which can induce a false diagnosis of hypertension (Mancia, 1983).


The simple taking of vital signs such as measuring blood pressure can increase or trigger blood pressure. And this depends on the patient's negative predisposition, which will lead him to present levels above his "normal" average. However, it is necessary to consider that this is an event that is due to multiple factors which influence the increase in blood pressure reading, all of them associated with an increase in the heartbeat:

Psychosocial factors

Physical and / or emotional health states:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear or fear
  • Fear of death or tanatophobia
  • Hypochondria
  • Reaction to the specialist's expert (doctor or nurse)

Situational or environmental factors

  • Stress
  • Negative environment
  • Instruments for measuring poorly calibrated blood pressure


Temporary or temporary increase when a patient's blood pressure is taken while in the presence of the healthcare professional, which results in a false diagnosis.

The cerebral paradox

If my brain detects threats the whole body will be on alert, but if it detects peace and balance, it will be relaxed fortunately.

There are people who improve their health status when a qualified person prescribes an alleged medication which consists of taking sugar pills (Placebo effect), while others with just thinking that the medications provided by a professional or the simple taking of vital signs, if these do not correspond to the average values ​​can get sick, and will interpret it as a negative state of health (nocebo effect). This happens because the brain builds its own reality in good and evil.

Can I be healthy and sick? Evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban states that: The brain can have two mutually incompatible beliefs. He calls it "Brain modularity or modular structure of the mind”And explains why people are wrong and contradictory? Some modules of the brain work better when they are wrong. We are very quick to detect inconsistencies in others, but we are designed not to detect our own inconsistencies (Networks, 2012).

The problem with this is that these modules do not communicate with each other and when one idea appears (being sick) it blocks the other (being healthy). This condition is not exclusive to health, it also occurs in other behaviors: I love or hate you, or the psychology of self-deception, I am intelligent when in reality I am not. The interpretation we make of reality is blunt.



  • Emotional control with relaxation and meditation techniques.
  • Thoughts create reality in good and evil. Negative expectations generate detrimental effects and poor results (nocebo effect), while positive expectations generate pleasurable effects (placebo effect).
  • Doctors
  • Have a good therapeutic relationship with the patient. It's about building trust and empathy.
  • The doctor needs to have an adequate communication capacity for communication for the complete diagnosis (physical, emotional, and social) and competent treatment (Murtagh, 2008).
  • Train the patient to take the blood pressure himself in an environment of tranquility and at different times of the day to establish an average, which will be reflected in a more accurate reading.
  • If you are taking any treatment with antihypertensives or any other medication, follow your doctor's instructions.