White coat hypertension, also termed as white coat syndrome, is a clinical condition which attributes to a rise in the patient’s blood pressure. This elevated blood pressure results when a patient is monitored outside his/her normal surroundings; for example in a clinic, hospital, or even at work.
This type of hypertension is termed a nervous ailment rather than being a cardio-vascular type. It can be present sometimes and absent at other times. White coat hypertension differs from hypertension as the latter refers to a health condition that records consistently high blood pressure readings, no matter what the patient’s environment is.
For instance, if a patient is waiting at a clinic and is feeling anxious or nervous about what is wrong with him/her, his/her blood pressure is bound to rise. If the medical practitioner monitors his reading, an increased blood pressure will be found. Later the doctor may check and find the patients vital organs like kidneys, lungs and heart are in perfect health. So when he/she takes the reading again he/she finds it to be normal. What a surprise!
Other times the blood pressure remains high when the doctor checks the patient; hence, a prescription of mild medication with good advice of exercise and rest for a couple of weeks before returning for another reading of the blood pressure.
The patient follows the doctor’s advice and takes the given medication dutifully for a couple of weeks before returning for another check up. This time, the blood pressure returns to normal. Hence, it is actually the attitude of the patient that impacted his blood pressure reading.
This condition is normally referred to as white coat hypertension. The final diagnosis is always difficult to establish as the high blood pressure could be caused by some nervousness but the patient becomes calm after seeing the doctor or after a few days of rest.
It has been said that patients tend to feel comforted by the sight of a doctor which may relieve or reduce the symptoms of their health condition. Perhaps it is the patient’s faith in the doctor that this medical practitioner is able to ‘put things right’ for his health, and he calms down; hence, his blood pressure also lowers.
Thus, this condition is referred as the White coat hypertension syndrome. On the contrary, there are others who may react quite differently; that is, their blood pressure increases when they are in the clinic or hospital, fearing the worse on their health report.
Our blood pressure can return to normal after a couple of weeks because our blood pressure levels keep rising and falling throughout the day. Your blood pressure level may be on a rise after a strenuous workout because your heart is pumping faster. It may also result from anxiety, stress, anger or excitement.
It may fall down when you are sleeping or relaxed. It’s easy to comprehend that whenever you have extreme emotions; your body will secrete the fight or flight hormone adrenaline. This hormone will act as a vasoconstrictor or vasodilator. Hence, the heart will start pumping blood faster or slower.
It is always better that we are conscious of the reasons of this white coat hypertension. One of the primary reasons or causes of white coat hypertension is nervousness. Nervousness can impact your blood pressure negatively by raising it higher than normal.
So, to enjoy consistent normal blood pressure readings, it is recommended that you remain alert to the things that may bring on nervousness in your life. Practice more relaxation exercises whenever you can. They can buffer you from the negative impact of nervousness and maintain good control over your blood pressure.
Hence, the next time you are nervous visiting your doctor, you can control your blood pressure from escalating. There can be many factors adding to stress in your life. Work out ways in which you could relax.
Spend time in your hobbies; they can be anything from gardening, writing in journals, or playing outdoor sports. The idea is to keep yourself occupied so that stress doesn’t take its toll. You can also keep a check on your blood pressure by regular monitoring.
You can do so at home by investing in a good blood pressure monitor. You can also be asked to have ABPM (ambulatory blood pressure measurement), which is nothing but taking your blood pressure every 24 hours. It is beneficial if you find that you have White Coat Hypertension so that you can embark on the journey of staying in control.
Some ways of doing that include admitting your fear that may trigger your nervousness. Evaluate your identified fear before identifying the best solution to overcome it. Do not push aside your fears as they may re-emerge and become more uncontrollable in the future.
Consult your doctor or the right therapist in assisting you to overcome your fear. It could be a cognitive behavioral therapy which requires you to learn some coping techniques and changing your mindset over certain issues. A couple of sessions can ease the patient’s condition.
Some patients may experience some pain and request for some medication. The doctor may prescribe sedatives or anesthetics to calm you down. Taking deep breaths to calm yourself down at any situation is relieving the white coat tension.
You should try to remain rational over undergoing some medical tests which may be necessary for your well being. You can also opt to get a second opinion from a different medical professional. It could be that you might have better relations with another doctor who can make you feel more at ease than the previous one.
Alternatively, you can get someone to go to the doctor with you. Your companion must be patient and understanding with you and your condition, encouraging you all the time and knows how to handle your situation carefully.
Overcome white coat hypertension quickly so that it does not develop into hypertension; the latter is a more dangerous condition. Seek medical help as soon as you notice white coat hypertension.
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