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Masked Hypertension: What You Need to Know

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023

Do you have high blood pressure? You might think you do not if your readings are normal at the doctor's office. However, you could still have high blood pressure and not even know it. This condition is called masked hypertension.Here’s what to know about this very common phenomenon.

What is Masked Hypertension

Masked hypertension is when a person has high blood pressure readings outside the doctor's office but normal readings during medical check-ups.

If your blood pressure is secretly high at home and you don’t know it, this masked hypertension can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Most importantly, if you don’t check at home, or the doctor doesn’t know your home readings are higher, this can lead to misdiagnosis and improper treatment.

Is Masked Hypertension that Common? Or Is It My Meter?

According to recent studies, about one in three people with hypertension in the US has masked hypertension. This means that over a million people are not aware of their high blood pressure and are not receiving the proper treatment they need. In fact, the inverse fo masked hypertension, “white coat” hypertension, is also common.

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.

If you think it may be your meter, read our article about BP accuracy to help you troubleshoot it.

Detecting Masked Hypertension

So, how can you know if you have masked hypertension? The best way is to measure your blood pressure at home. Now I’m not talking about testing it when you are most relaxed or on your healthiest diet. I’m saying check regularly. This will give you a more accurate picture of your blood pressure’s highs and lows, and will help you and your doctor to determine if you have masked hypertension.

Regardless, masked hypertension is a condition where a person's blood pressure readings are normal at the doctor's office but high elsewhere. This is very common, in fact, more common than the reverse, white coat hypertension. It also can be very dangerous. If you think you might have masked 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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