White Coat Hypertension

“My blood pressure is only high when I am at the doctor’s office.”  This comment is a frequently heard in health care settings, and is clinically known as white coat hypertension.  We used to think that this finding was benign, but a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the risk of patient death is nearly double when compared to those who do not have this condition.

Nearly 30% of the adult population has white coat hypertension, which doubles the risk of heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia and heart failure, among other conditions.  The general consensus is that any stressful event beyond the doctor’s office, such as a fight with one’s spouse or being cut off in traffic, can also precipitously raises one’s blood pressure, increases the risk of death.

Home blood pressure monitoring is the first step in determining whether or not white coat hypertension is a hazard to one’s health.  Any blood pressure reading over 130/80 is now considered hypertension, and a medical consult is recommended.  Lifestyle changes, such as those discussed in Six Lifestyle Changes To Help Reduce Blood Pressure, are oftentimes successful in treating mild hypertension.  However, medication frequently must be added to reduce one’s risk of complications from high blood pressure.

If you find that your blood pressure increases only in stressful situations, you might find benefit in scheduling an appointment to discuss strategies to overcome this condition.  Members of North Idaho Direct Primary Care should contact our office and schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. Samuel.  If you are not a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care and have further questions, you can click here for more information, or contact us to schedule a free Q&A session with Dr. Samuel.

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