Muscle and skin sympathetic nerve traffic during the 'white-coat' effect

G. Grassi, C. Turri, S. Vailati, R. Dell'Oro, G. Mancia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background - Sphygmomanometric blood pressure measurements induce an alerting reaction and thus an increase in the patient's blood pressure and heart rate. Whether and to what extent this 'white-coat' effect is accompanied by detectable changes in sympathetic nerve traffic has never been investigated. Methods and Results - In 10 mild untreated essential hypertensives (age 37.9±3.8 years, mean±SEM), we measured arterial blood pressure (by Finapres), heart rate (by ECG), and postganglionic muscle and skin sympathetic nerve activity via microneurography. Measurements were performed with the subject supine during (1) a 15-minute control period, (2) a 10-minute visit by a doctor unfamiliar to the patient who was in charge of measuring his or her blood pressure by sphygmomanometry, and (3) a 15-minute recovery period after the doctor's departure. The entire procedure was performed twice at a 45-minute interval to obtain, in separate periods, muscle or skin sympathetic nerve traffic recordings, whose sequence was randomized. The doctor's visit induced a sudden, marked, and prolonged pressor and tachycardic response, accompanied by a significant increase in skin sympathetic nerve traffic (+38.6±6.7%, P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-225
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 20 1999


  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Nervous system
  • Reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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