What if your doctor is treating you for hypertension, when you do not even have high blood pressure?
It is very important for you to know because you may end up using medications for hypertension when you do not have it.
Are you sure you actually have White Coat Hypertension, not Sustained Hypertension?
What Is White Coat Hypertension?
According to 2013 European Society of Hypertension/Society of Cardiology guidelines, whenever you notice that your blood pressure is always above 140/90mmHg or higher on at least three different times only when you are with your healthcare provider, but normal whenever you are at home, then you are experiencing White coat hypertension.
This simply means that depending on the blood pressure reading in the hospital settings is not an effective foolproof method of detecting hypertension.
It simply means that some people get a little nervous in a hospital or health care provider setting.
Many people experience white coat hypertension when they visit their health care provider. Their blood pressure is higher than normal in the health care setting but normal when they get home or in a familiar environment.
White coat hypertension was first discovered by Riva-Rocci in 1896, who described this phenomenon as an increase in blood pressure experienced only during a physician’s visit.
What causes White Coat Hypertension?
Basically, it is fear, worry, anxiety, tension, etc. Your heart will beat faster and your blood pressure will rise if you hate going to the hospital, seeing a lot of sick people or even expect to hear bad news about your health.
This will give a false reading to the person checking your blood pressure. And unfortunately, the Doctor may prescribe drugs for you because of the rise in blood pressure.
Can Stress cause White Coat Hypertension?
Stress at home or work cannot cause white coat hypertension because you only experience it when you visit your doctor.
Now that you know it exist, and you do not want to end up taking medications for blood pressure, how do you convince your doctor that you have a normal blood pressure?
Is White Coat Hypertension genetic?
I am not aware of any study confirming if white coat hypertension runs in the family.
Is White Coat Hypertension a Serious Problem?
A review report showed that 30–40% of patients who were on medications for high blood pressure based on their readings in the hospital alone actually had normal blood pressure according to ambulatory blood pressure measurements.
According to British Hypertension Society,
”Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) is when your blood pressure is measured as you move around, living your normal daily life. It is measured for up to 24 hours. A small digital blood pressure monitor is attached to a belt around your waist and connected to a cuff around your upper arm. It is small enough not to affect your normal daily life and you can even sleep with it on”.
Ambulatory monitoring may be the most effective method for diagnosing and confirming whether patients are persistently hypertensive or experiencing white coat syndrome.7
Ambulatory monitoring should confirm the diagnosis of white coat hypertension within 3 months, and then every 6 months thereafter, as well as to provide continued monitoring of these patients, as there is a risk of developing true hypertension.
The benefit of ambulatory monitoring is that it helps your health care provider confirm if you have hypertension or white coat hypertension.
A study showed that some patients who had been unsuccessfully treated for persistent hypertension were equally experiencing white coat hypertension.
Another study found out that 37% of people who were being treated for high blood pressure were experiencing white coat resistant hypertension.
For this reason, it has been recommended that patients who start to have mildly or moderately high blood pressure measurements not be treated with medication unless an organ is damaged and their blood pressure remains high after three to six visits.
The major problem is that it gives a false impression to your Doctor about a disease that it is not actually there. You may end up using medication you do not need.
The diagnosis of white coat hypertension has been shown to significantly increase with age and it is often associated with the appearance of a physician.
Also, over a long term White coat hypertension can eventually lead to sustained hypertension or even diabetes.
Should white coat hypertension be treated?
Since the cause is psychological, using medications is unnecessary rather psychological therapy.
1 effective way to stop White Coat hypertension.
What you should do is to take your blood pressure readings every day at the same time and record it in a book, days before you visit your healthcare provider. That way, you have records to show that your blood pressure is normal.
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