Is your blood pressure always higher at the doctor's chamber than at home?

By Dr Muhamed Shaloob

04 Dec, 2017


Could it be that you have ‘white coat hypertension’ ?

White coat hypertension is a condition when your blood pressure is higher in a physician's chamber, but is normal when measured at home. The term white coat hypertension is coined from the white coats that the health care professionals who measure your blood pressure often wear.

Causes and risks of white coat hypertension?

It’s not unusual for some people to experience a bit of anxiety when they visit their doctor. This increased anxiety can spike their blood pressure numbers temporarily.

Some experts believe that white coat hypertension is not a cause of concern since it is just caused by a temporary stress, and the blood pressure normalizes once you leave the doctor's chamber.

While some others think that, white coat hypertension may be a red flag that could signal the risk of developing high blood pressure as a long-term condition and an increased risk of developing certain cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart attack, heart failure compared with people who have normal blood pressure always.

The same can hold true, for those who have masked hypertension, when lower blood pressure readings are found at the doctor's office than at home.

Should you treat white coat hypertension?

It may, be harmful to prescribe anti-hypertensive medication for hypertension relying on one elevated blood pressure reading. It can lead to serious issues, including hypotension – a state, when your blood pressure drops too low.

If you have white coat hypertension, talk to your doctor about having a home blood pressure monitor that you can use at separate times of the day. Presuming that, blood pressure should be much better controlled at home, when you are relaxed.

The second option is an ambulatory blood pressure monitor which can for track your blood pressure up to 24 hours. It can take readings during the daytime as well as while you sleep.

Both options can help determine if your high blood pressure only occurs in the doctor's office or if it's a persistent condition that needs treatment. However, ambulatory blood pressure monitor that records your BP through 24 hours gives a more comprehensive picture.

There can be other causes as well for occasional hypertension!

You may also experience moments of increased blood pressure because of stressful situations, not taking your blood pressure medicine regularly, eating food high in sodium or consuming excess caffeine.

Over a period, temporary increase in blood pressure, either at your doctor’s chamber or otherwise can damage your heart and increase your risk for more serious conditions.

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