It’s not unusual to have your blood pressure taken and hear from your doctor that it’s too high, even if you don’t normally experience hypertension. Known as “white coat hypertension,” this response is thought to be due to the stress and anxiety often associated with visiting the doctor’s office.
Is White Coat Hypertension Dangerous?
When your doctor sees consistently high blood pressure readings, the natural response is to diagnose hypertension and begin treatment. It has been shown that those with white coat hypertension experience lower rates of morbidity than those with true hypertension, but higher morbidity than those without it. Some doctors think that the condition may be a sign of future problems, but without a consistent blood pressure reading, it’s hard to give an accurate diagnosis. After all, if you only have your blood pressure taken at the doctor’s office, how are you going to know if you have hypertension?
A Better Way to Monitor
The only way to get an accurate picture of your blood pressure levels is to take readings throughout the day. Your doctor may have you wear an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for a full 24 hours to do this, but you can also take readings yourself with one of the many home blood pressure monitors on the market.
Daytime and nighttime blood pressure readings appear to have different implications when it comes to heart disease, so taking readings at many times over the course of the day is important. To take a good reading, make sure you sit in a quiet place and rest for a few minutes. Avoid monitoring your blood pressure if you’ve just had caffeine, have been through a stressful situation, or have just finished exercising. Many medications can also affect your blood pressure, so be aware of the potential side effects. Smokers also generally have higher readings than non-smokers.
Write down each reading in a notebook or a chart and bring it with you to the doctor the next time you go for a checkup. Take readings at the same times each day for several days so you can give your doctor as detailed a record as possible.
If your blood pressure isn’t lower when you take it at home, visit an AppleCare Immediate Care clinic for a checkup. The walk-in clinic is always ready to provide immediate medical care. Whether you’re in Warner Robins, Valdosta, Brunswick, or another part of southeast Georgia, our immediate care clinics are staffed with care providers can address all of your health concerns. To book an appointment with one of our providers in advance, visit our website.