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Blood pressure spikes

Do you find your blood pressure increases at the doctors office as soon as you see that ‘white-coat’ coming? :)

‘White-coat’ and ‘masked’ hypertension have generally been considered to be harmless. Now a new study shows that occasional spikes in blood pressure due to the ‘white-coat’ effect or ‘masked’ hypertension, can increase the risk for sustained high blood pressure.

What is ‘white-coat’ and ‘masked’ hypertension?

White-coat hypertension is where a person’s blood pressure is high in the doctor’s office, but otherwise normal in everyday life. It is very common and a lot of people tell me going to the doctors is stressful for them!

In masked hypertension, a patient’s blood pressure is normal when checked by a doctor, but sporadically high in everyday life. Masked hypertension is not as well known but there are people who are hypertensive but the diagnosis is missed by doctors.

The blood pressure spike study

Italian researchers studied 1,412 people aged 25 to 74 years old. The group had their blood pressure taken 3 ways and were classified into 3 groups based on the results.

  • In a doctors office once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • By 24-hour ambulatory monitoring.
  • Home monitoring, using home monitors twice at day at 7am and 7pm.

After the initial tests, the patients were reassessed 10 years later to see how many patients from the ‘normal-blood-pressure’, ‘white-coat-hypertension’, and ‘masked-hypertension’ groups had developed sustained high blood pressure.

After 10 years, 42% of those who had white-coat hypertension and 46% of those who had masked-hypertension sustained high blood pressure. This compares with only 17% of the group who had normal blood pressure in all settings at the start of the study.

The researchers thoughts …

People with sporadic increases in blood pressure are more likely to become people with sustained hypertension. The study shows that having white-coat and masked hypertension does increase the risk of developing hypertension in the future. They are not harmless conditions and should be monitored.

Dr Franz Messerli from New York, added, “There is no question that home blood pressure monitoring is a better predictor of heart attack and stroke than is office blood pressure monitoring.”

White-coat and masked hypertension are 2 great reasons to home monitor blood pressure! The study was published in Hypertension, The American Heart Association journal.

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One Response to “White-coat hypertension is a risk”

  1. Stephen says:

    I also have erratic blood pressure. My wrist monitor is always lower than the arm monitor. I never know which to trust. 3 months ago my blood pressure started reading really high. So my doctor told me to double up on the blood pressure medication. It didn’t seem to make much difference. So I asked him to change the medication to something generic. He put me on Losartan Postassium 50mg once a day. My blood pressure now depending on which monitor you are looking at, 149+- over 90+-. I been having trouble breathing and experiencing no energy. The doctors don’t seem to have a clue. One says I have pulmonary hypertension of the right ventricle. He is a Chest Consultant, Pulmonary Specialist. My Cardiologist says he believe it a problem with the lungs since three years ago I had pulmonary embolisms in both lungs. So we are going to do a heart cath of the right and left side to measure the pressure and try to determine the problem with my breathing. I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling about this. Seems “Practicing Medicine” is really the answer here. I believe they don’t have a clue!! On a wing and a prayer.

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About Kellie

Kellie is 37 years old and together with her brother Steve makes up the My Health Software team.

She helps on the websites and gathering news for the programs. Kellie worked in the medical industry prior to having her two children (8 and 6) and has a strong interest in self awareness and management of health conditions.


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