White-Coat Hypertension is the name given to a phenomenon whereby people visiting a doctor, and having their blood pressure level checked, experience an abnormally high blood pressure reading only while in the doctor's office. An article discussing this problem appeared in the March 25, 2003 edition from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Within the article, William B. White, MD. professor and head of the hypertension and clinical pharmacology program at the University of Connecticut Health Center said, "This alarmingly hypertension occurs only when the patient is in a physician's office. The patient's blood pressure is remarkably higher when measured by a doctor but lower when measured in a different setting, such as a senior center or at your home." Dr. White also estimated that one-third of senior citizens with mild hypertension are afflicted by the condition and are often given unneeded medications.
"I was treating a gentleman for uncontrolled and resistant [to medication] hypertension,' says White. 'One day he walked in, jumped up on the table and mentioned he'd just come from playing nine holes of golf. He looked great and felt great. I took his blood pressure level and it was 298 over 100. [Normal is 130/90.] I asked him how he felt, and he said terrific. It just didn't make sense at all, until he mentioned that his blood pressure level was always lower when it was measured anywhere other than a doctor's office."
Most folks admit to feeling nervous during a doctor's visit. But for some, the stress of being in a medical setting goes well beyond being anxious about an exam or a shot. The content offered two suggestions to those who feel they might be a candidate for this phenomenon. First they suggest that you also have your blood pressure monitored somewhere apart from the doctors office, and secondly if you have noticed a persistent discrepancy between your blood pressure readings at your doctor's office and people taken elsewhere, you should let your medical provider know.
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