White coat syndrome occurs when a person’s blood pressure readings tend to be higher at the doctor’s office compared to home settings. This is often attributed to the anxiety that surrounds doctors and hospital settings. Medications aren’t a solution for white coat hypertension.
Before going to a doctor’s office, you can try the following tips to control your fear and anxiety:
- Identify the reason for your anxiety and try to evaluate your coping mechanism.
- Always try to confront your anxieties and deal with them logically. For example, if you fear a doctor’s visit, you might be losing your chance of saving yourself from hypertension and its complications.
- Consult a different doctor if your current doctor incites fear in you.
- Ask someone whom you can rely on to accompany you during your physician visits.
- Talking therapy may help reframe your state of mind and help you learn coping techniques.
- Always ask your doctor about how the whole procedure feels if you are not aware of it. A reasonable description of the procedure and assurance from the doctor or nurse may help you relax.
- Take a nap before your doctor’s visit.
- Avoid drinking excessive amounts of water just before getting your blood pressure checked because it can elevate your readings.
- Do not involve yourself in any physical activity because physical exertion will raise blood pressure.
- Watch what you eat before a doctor’s appointment, such as avoiding fatty, sodium-rich food for at least two days before your appointment.
- Relax and free your mind of all unwanted worries before going for your appointment.
Your doctor may recommend home monitoring of blood pressure if you show signs of white coat syndrome, which typically involves wearing a blood pressure monitor for up to 24 hours. This may help you identify whether your condition is temporary or persistent and if you require medical intervention.
What causes white coat syndrome?
Extreme anxiety and fear are the two most common causes of white coat syndrome. Studies show that people who fear hospital visits may also experience the syndrome. Additionally, people who expect high blood pressure readings or are anxious about having their blood pressure taken are more likely to have white coat hypertension.
People with white coat syndrome often require special monitoring and testing to receive the most accurate diagnosis. A high probability of misdiagnosis exists if the physician decides to use only regular in-office testing. Hence, home monitoring of blood pressure is essential for the physician to accurately track blood pressure over an extended period outside the doctor’s office.
Is white coat syndrome dangerous?
Physicians used to consider white coat syndrome benign because it would resolve itself once the person left the doctor’s office. However, currently, some experts suggest that the syndrome might indicate the risk of developing high blood pressure as a chronic condition. Furthermore, it could also indicate the person is at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than people with normal blood pressure readings.
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Mayo Clinic. White Coat Hypertension: When Blood Pressure Rises at the Doctor's Office. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/white-coat-hypertension/faq-20057792
Chrysant SG. Treatment of White Coat Hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2000 Aug;2(4):412-7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10981177/