According to a study, occasional blood pressure hikes can increase the risk for more sustained high blood pressure even in a doctor's office, or elsewhere in everyday life.

Blood pressure is high in patients with white-coat hypertension while in the doctor’s office but is otherwise normal. In masked hypertension patient, blood pressure is normal when checked, but sporadically high in everyday life.

The Italian study which involved more than 1,400 people of age 25-74 found that after 10 years almost 43 percent of those with white-coat hypertension, about 47 percent of those with masked hypertension, and just over 18 percent of those with normal blood pressure in all settings had sustained high blood pressure.

After adjusting for age and gender, we found that compared to those who were normotensive at the start of the study, the risk of developing sustained hypertension was 2.51 times higher in patients with white-coat hypertension and 1.78 times higher in those with masked hypertension, study author Dr. Giuseppe Mancia, chairman of the department of medicine at University Milan-Bicocca, S. Gerardo Hospital, Monza, said in a news release.

There is always a contradiction between the potential threat posed by white-coat and masked hypertension.

Earlier studies, all with shorter follow-up than this one, have been inconclusive, Mancia said. This study is the first demonstration that white-coat hypertension and masked hypertension result in greater long-term risk of developing sustained hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. This means that these conditions are by no means clinically innocent, as they have often thought to be.