Previously we estimated the prevalence of essential hypertension (EH) as around 0.1% and suggested that male gender, obesity, and strong genetic background (hypertension in parents) were risk factors for EH in a young population aged less than 30 based on targeted screening for hypertension at a university health check-up. This study also revealed a high incidence of white coat hypertension (WCH) in university students, and thus, we continued this screening for four consecutive years, and examined the prognosis and clinical characteristics of young-onset WCH. Three occasions of casual blood pressure (BP) measurement and additional home BP measurement revealed 72 WCH and 15 EH students (all males) during the 4-year study period. None of the WCH students had elevated home BP to the level of hypertension during their stay at university, and 26 out of 38 WCH students participating screening in the following years showed normal casual BP. Although WCH students showed a significantly higher pulse rate than controls, WCH could not be fully differentiated from EH either by pulse rate or by correlation between casual BP value and pulse rate. These findings indicate the requirement of longer follow-up after graduation to determine the prognosis of young-onset WCH, though EH and WCH In the young population share the same risk factors and, possibly, autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Since diagnosis of WCH has limited importance for university students, screening of EH following a general health check-up would elevate the clinical validity of casual BP measurement at the university.
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