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Do You Have White-Coat Hypertension?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
June 3, 2024
June 4, 2024

Do you get nervous when visiting the doctor? This anxiety could be affecting your blood pressure readings. White coat hypertension is a condition where a person's blood pressure readings are higher in a medical setting, such as a doctor's office, than they are outside of it. Watch the video below, or keep reading!

What Causes White Coat Hypertension?

White coat hypertension is caused by the anxiety and stress that people can feel when they are in a medical setting. This temporary increase in blood pressure is not harmful in itself, but if it is left untreated, it can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems over time.

So, how can you know if you have white coat hypertension? The best way is to measure your blood pressure at home often, like several times per week. This will give you a more accurate picture of your blood pressure and will help you and your doctor to determine if you have white coat hypertension.

How Common is It?

White coat hypertension is a relatively common occurrence and affects about 20-30% of people with hypertension. This means that many people are not receiving the proper treatment they need because their blood pressure readings are much lower outside of the doctor's office.

How Do White Coat and Masked Hypertension Compare?

Masked hypertension, on the other hand, is when a person's blood pressure readings are normal in the doctor's office but elevated outside of these settings. It is estimated to affect about one in three people with hypertension in the United States.

While both white coat and masked hypertension can be concerning, masked hypertension is potentially more dangerous as it can go unnoticed and lead to improper treatment.

Think You Have WCH? Here's What To Check

If you think you may have white coat hypertension, try to check blood pressure more often, and seek doctor's help after you have several more days of frequent readings.

  • Check blood pressure 3-4 times per day, for a week, or do a blood pressure baseline test
  • Talk to your doctor if your readings are still much lower than what they saw in the office, and ask them if this is a concern. You may be asked to bring your BP monitor back to the office to test again.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a good diet, plenty of exercise, and avoiding risk factors

Takeaways

In conclusion, white coat hypertension is a condition where a person's blood pressure readings are elevated in a medical setting but normal outside of it. This can be caused by anxiety and stress in a medical setting. If you think you might have white coat hypertension, talk to your doctor about getting a home blood pressure monitor. Early detection and proper treatment can help prevent serious health problems.

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