White coat hypertension (WCHT) and white coat effect (WCE) are often thought to be of the same entity. They are in fact different conditions which carry distinctive definitions and prognostic significance. WCHT is diagnosed when office blood pressure (OBP) is ≥140/90 mmHg on at least 3 occasions, while the average daytime or 24-hour blood pressure is <135/85 mmHg. It is common with 15% prevalence in the general population and may account for over 30% of individuals in whom hypertension is diagnosed. Although individuals with WCHT were reported to have a better cardiovascular (CV) prognosis when compared to those with sustained hypertension and masked hypertension; they were also shown to have a greater prevalence of target organ damage (TOD) and metabolic abnormalities than that of normotensive subjects. In contrast, WCE is defined as the transient elevation of OBP induced by the alerting response to a doctor or a nurse. WCE can occur in both normotensive and hypertensive persons; and is not substantially influenced by reassurance and familiarisation. There is conflicting evidence with regards to prognostic significance of WCE, where most data indicated that it does not predict future TOD, CV morbidity or mortality; with some studies showed otherwise. This case scenario aims to solve the diagnostic perplexity with regards to WCHT and WCE, followed by an evidence-based commentary of how to best manage such conditions.
Malignant hypertension affects less than 1% of people with high blood pressure, and is a hypertensive emergency. It is rare for patients to present initially with this form of elevated blood pressure, which is almost always associated with acute target organ damage, which can manifest in many forms including ocular, neurological, cardiac and renal. This treatable condition is associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality therefore, early detection and immediate management is of paramount importance.