White Coat Hypertension

Hi, Dr. Deb

It seems like every time I have to go into the doctor’s for my annual exam, I’m scared, and consequently it seems to make my blood pressure high.  Should I be concerned and what can I do to lower my blood pressure? 

You are describing what is commonly known as “white coat hypertension”. When I first became a physician, doctors believed that this was nothing to worry about, and the high blood pressure resulted due to an individual’s anxiety about going to see the doctor.

New studies with home blood pressure monitoring, have shown that this higher blood pressure is present ANY TIME a person is anxious, stressed, excited, or even just very busy.

The blood pressure readings that are considered normal are now under 130 for the systolic (top number in the reading) and under 85 for the diastolic (lower number in the reading).  Medical experts now know that even moderate (10 point or more) elevations above these cutoff numbers can raise the risk of stroke or heart disease.

I now tell my patients that “white coat hypertension” is TRUE hypertension, and we need to have the discussion on starting medication to manage this.

Yours in health and in Him,

Dr  Deb