You have a digital blood pressure monitor to keep track of your blood pressure. Every time you monitor, you find that your blood pressure is normal. However, your blood pressure increases when you visit a doctor. This is known as white coat syndrome. The home blood pressure monitor shows 120/80 mm Hg when the blood pressure is normal. If it is above this reading, you have high blood pressure. You may think that white coat syndrome is a minor issue related to anxiety associated with doctors. However, it’s not normal. It may indicate a serious blood pressure condition.
White coat hypertension occurs in medical settings. On the other hand, regular hypertension occurs in many other situations. 15 to 30% of the high blood pressure patients in clinical settings have white coat hypertension. When your blood pressure remains normal in clinical settings but rises in other settings then you are suffering from a condition called masked hypertension.
Anxiety is normal when you visit a doctor. This anxiety may increase your blood pressure. Even when it is occasional, temporary white coat syndrome, you should not ignore it. According to a study, the risk of the following is high in patients with white coat hypertension:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
It can also cause other cardiovascular conditions. White coat syndrome is strongly associated with deaths from a heart attack.
This makes it a serious issue that must be addressed without any delay. Visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of Hypertension
There can be some other stressors that can cause high blood pressure. For example, you have not taken your hypertension medicines for a few days. An emergency can also increase your blood pressure. Caffeine or foods with high sodium content can also cause a temporary rise in your blood pressure. Removing the trigger can bring blood pressure back to normal. However, even temporary high blood pressure is not good for your heart. Damage can be severe if temporary high blood pressure occurs for longer periods.
How to manage white coat hypertension
Before you use a digital blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure in a doctor’s office, keep the following in mind:
- Tell the doctor or nurse that you need some time to relax.
- You can move to some other area that is less crowded.
- You can try breathing deeply and exhaling slowly or some other practice to get relief from stress.
- Changing the conversation can also help.