Steve Alan’s elevated blood pressure readings at Doctor Visits were always put down to the ‘white coat effect’. It turns out that Steve’s blood pressure was too high, with or without a white coat present.
Many people experience white coat hypertension, where a patient exhibits elevated blood pressure readings in a Doctor’s office or in the presence of a Physician.
Blood pressure normally goes up and down throughout a 24 hour period. For example, when you are excited or have just exercised your blood pressure rises; when you are asleep or resting your blood pressure falls. White coat hypertension is caused by anxiety. Many people may be aware when they are nervous or anxious, but others may think that they are relaxed when, in fact, they are not.
There are no symptoms of white coat hypertension. The only way to find out if you suffer from it, is to have your blood pressure taken away from a doctor’s surgery. This can be done in two ways; take readings yourself at home with a blood pressure monitoring device or Ambulatory Blood Pressure Measurement (ABPM). ABPM is where the patient carries a portable monitor which takes readings over a 24 hour period.
A more convenient way to measure blood pressure is by using a home blood pressure monitoring device. Readings can be taken on a regular basis at home or work and can then be reported back to the Doctor at each visit. The dabl Educational Trust website has a list of different home blood pressure monitors and their features. See http://www.dableducational.org/links/global.html
A small number of people that are diagnosed with high blood pressure may have white coat hypertension, and could be placed incorrectly on blood pressure medication. However, many people with white coat hypertension go on to develop high blood pressure in the future. So, it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly away from the Doctor’s rooms with a home blood pressure monitoring device.
By Kellie Helen, My Health Software.