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White Coat Hypertension: When blood pressure rises in the doctor's office



My blood pressure is always higher in the doctor's office than at home. Why is that?

Answer by Sheldon G. Sheps, MD.

You may have a condition known as white coat hypertension. White hypertension occurs when the blood pressure in your doctor's office is higher than in other settings, such as: In your home. It is referred to as high blood pressure in a white coat because health care professionals measuring your blood pressure sometimes wear white coats.

It was once thought that hypertension in the white coat was caused by the stress that a doctor's appointments can cause. Once you left the doctor's office and your blood pressure returned to normal, you thought there was no problem.

However, some doctors believe that hypertension in the white coat signals the risk of high blood pressure as a long-term condition. If you have high blood pressure, you may be at a higher risk of developing certain cardiovascular problems than people who have normal blood pressure at all times. The same can apply to people who have masked hypertension. This means that the blood pressure in the doctor's office is normal, but if it is measured regularly in other settings. It is believed that even these temporary increases in blood pressure can become a long-term problem.

If you have high blood pressure in a white coat, talk to your doctor about monitoring your condition at home. Your doctor may ask you to wear a blood pressure monitor (ambulatory blood pressure monitor) for up to 24 hours to monitor your blood pressure both during the day and during sleep. This may help to determine if your high blood pressure occurs only in the doctor's office or if it is a permanent condition that needs to be treated.

Updated: 2017-07-19

Release date: 2017-07-19


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