Tag Archives: blood pressure

Is White Coat Hypertension Causing You Undue Worry?

Over one third of Americans suffer hypertension: the silent killer. We took a look at masked hypertension (when someone experiences higher ambulatory blood pressure readings than those in the doctor’s office) in our last post, and up next, we’d like to check out its opposite phenomena: white coat hypertension.

White Coat Syndrome

White coat syndrome (or effect) refers to a fairly common type of nervousness or anxiety people experience when visiting doctors. The term ‘white coat’ derives from the fact that medical doctors traditionally wore white jackets. This type of anxiety can spur from a distrust of doctors based on bad past experiences, a worry of receiving the wrong treatment, or perhaps from a fear of hearing bad news from a doctor. It is common to feel stressed about visiting the doctor, especially if you are waiting for results or undergoing an examination. It is estimated that nearly 20% of Americans suffer from some degree of white coat syndrome.

What is White Coat Hypertension?

White coat hypertension is an offshoot of white coat syndrome. It occurs when a person is anxious to have their blood pressure taken or be examined by a physician, so their blood pressure numbers present much higher in the doctor’s office than if measured at home. Generally, a person’s blood pressure should only vary by a few millimeters of mercury (mmHg) when taken at the doctor’s office versus at another location. This means no more of a variance than 10mmHg for the top number (systolic) and 5mmHg for the bottom number (diastolic). People with white coat hypertension may have a large fluctuation in their readings at a doctor’s office and relatively normal blood pressure when measured throughout the day at home.

Could White Coat Hypertension Lead to A Misdiagnosis?

While it is possible that a doctor may misdiagnose a person experiencing white coat hypertension as having actual hypertension, this would likely be a rare occurrence as most physicians would double check with ambulatory readings (using a portable blood pressure monitor at home). If a doctor suspects high blood pressure due to several in-office readings, they often suggest home monitoring for a 24-hour period or longer to cross check with their own readings to ensure the diagnosis is accurate before proceeding with treatment. If your doctor does not suggest home monitoring before trying to prescribe blood pressure treatment, you should certainly request it.

What Can be Done To Prevent White Coat Hypertension?

If you know you are experiencing this phenomenon, it is important to try to de-stress before entering a doctor’s office. You should also let your doctor know that your home readings have been in the normal range so that no unnecessary treatment ensues. If you are having trouble bringing your anxiety level down before visiting a doctor, take a look at some of our stress busters. People with more severe white coat syndrome may need to seek psychological therapy to figure out the root of their fear of medical environments and work toward dealing with it.

Can White Coat Hypertension Turn into Hypertension?

Yes. While it is common for everyone’s blood pressure to fluctuate during the run of a day, it is possible that someone who experiences significant stress-related blood pressure spikes may go on to develop high blood pressure. For this reason, you will likely continue to be monitored by your doctor (and at home) to ensure your blood pressure is in check in the future as well.

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Could You Have Masked Hypertension?

Approximately a third of American adults suffer from hypertension (a whopping 75 million people). Some may not even be aware they have the condition. Just because your blood pressure readings are okay at the doctor’s office doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. There are two phenomena that result in inaccurate blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office: one is called ‘masked hypertension’, and its opposite is called ‘white coat hypertension’. Today we’re going to investigate masked hypertension.

What is Masked Hypertension?

Masked hypertension is a phenomenon whereby a person’s blood pressure measures in the healthy zone when they are visiting a doctor, but readings are much higher when they self-measure at home or at another location. This may occur because some people find a doctor’s office to be a calming environment, whereas their home life may be quite hectic or busy which may affect their blood pressure. Masked hypertension may also be a result of a person’s blood pressure spiking when they partake in activities such as drinking or smoking on a regular basis.

How Common is Masked Hypertension?

According to Doctor Deepak Bhatt, MPH, editor of the Harvard University Heart Health letter, the only reason we know this condition even exists is because of several studies that required participants to gather ambulatory blood pressure readings as well as some in a doctor’s office. In some of the studies, up to 40% of participants experienced higher blood pressure in everyday life than in the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing the true number of people affected by masked hypertension because if a person’s readings are fine in the office, a doctor commonly won’t request they check them at home.

What to do About Masked Hypertension?

Dr. Deepak suggests that because high blood pressure is such a prevalent problem in America, those middle-aged or older should invest in a home monitor to occasionally check their numbers to ensure their readings are healthy across the board or to alert them if the readings differ. Blood pressure is a silent killer if left undetected and unmanaged, so it is important to know your true numbers.

Stay tuned next time for the opposite phenomenon known as white coat hypertension. Thanks for visiting DocChat!


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Hobbies that Can Help Control Blood Pressure

Blood pressure issues (high or low) can lead to life-threatening complications if left untreated. Whether you have been recently diagnosed with an active blood pressure issue or wish to change your lifestyle to prevent health problems in the future, these suggestions will help you improve your daily routine and lower your stress levels.

Stress can worsen blood pressure issues. If you find yourself frequently stressed out then it is time to take steps to reign in your stress levels. Find things which trigger your stress and avoid them if possible and remember stress can be controlled. Step back from stressful situations and put your health first.

The best way to reduce stress is by concentrating on other things. Many experts say that choosing a healthy hobby can help beat blood pressure problems. To help you in this regard, we’ve listed below a myriad of options that might help.

Cultivate Healthy and Relaxing Hobbies
Slow paced hobbies requiring concentration on simple tasks will help you relax.

● Gardening—Reconnect with nature and your nurturing side.
● Cooking—Can be as simple or complex as you want. You will get delicious food and a sense of achievement.
● Photography—Go out and explore the world and capture your journey with pictures.
● Scrap-booking –Create an artistic expression of your life journey.
● Writing—Unleash your imagination and start writing, even maintaining a personal journal is therapeutic and can build perspective.
● Solving Puzzles—A fun solitary or group activity, it will leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
● Listen to Music—Listen to your favorite music; try to expand your tastes by exploring different music styles.
● Reading—Reading allows you to get absorbed in a different world. Turn it into a group activity and join a local reading group.

Make Regular Exercise a Part of Your Daily Routine
This section deserves a heading of its own simply because of its benefits. Exercising can be considered a hobby, and when it comes to ‘exercising to maintain your blood pressure’ it is different from regular workouts and weightlifting.

Aerobic Exercise
Regular aerobic exercise will help you achieve and maintain a strong cardiovascular system. People with blood-pressure issues should make time for some light aerobic exercises, even a brisk 30 minute walk will improve your health.

Non-aerobic exercises will also help you keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. The less vigorous kinds of yoga are the best type of non-aerobic exercise. Yoga has proven to be an excellent form of exercise that helps to achieve mental and physical strength. There are a lot of classes offered where you can learn basic technique and then continue by yourself. Yoga includes some specific breathing techniques which help you maintain a calm mental state. Yoga techniques slow down the heart rate; this is known to help people with hypertensive issues.

We hope this will help you keep your blood pressure under check. However, if you suffer from these issues you can get in touch with us as telemedicine can help in these problems as well.