06/15/2009 - Questions and Answers

"White Coat" syndrome

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Question

I have read that when taking your blood pressure using a home monitor you should take a least 3 readings, and go by the last reading.

I also have "white coat syndrome" with my BP in the doctor's office higher by 20 to 30 points. What's the cause for this?
 

Answer

In a healthy adult the blood pressure can change from minute to minute, with changes in posture, exercise or sleeping, but it should normally be less than 120/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) for an adult. Stress, fear, or anxiety can all raise BP levels but only whilst the stimulus lasts. So when you relax, your BP is at it's 'normal' level.
 

"White-coat syndrome," is a fear of going to the doctor's office that causes many people to have an elevated blood pressure. (The name refers to the white coats that medical personnel often wear.) Usually, a second blood pressure measurement at the end of the visit will be normal, assuming you haven't been given any alarming news. This is not a problem and doesn't raise your risk for developing any of the problems associated with chronic high blood pressure. A good way to make sure your blood pressure is normal is to make an occasional unscheduled drop-in visit to the doctor's office to have the nurse check your pressure, or to check it at the machines available in pharmacies and grocery stores. Don't be obsessive about it, however!

 

Related Links
Note Down Your Numbers!

Created on: 03/13/2004
Reviewed on: 06/15/2009

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