White coat syndrome, which is also called as white coat hypertension, refers to the condition in which a person develops high blood pressure on visiting the clinic of a doctor or health care provider. Blood pressure of patient suffering from white coat syndrome is otherwise normal. This disorder is very common and occurs due to anxiety mainly. This syndrome is quite different from masked hypertension, in which high blood pressure develops during daily living conditions but not in office setting conditions.
It has been found in a study that about 10-20% of patients visiting health care providers suffer from white coat syndrome. It has been termed as a conditioning phenomenon, as anxiety suffered in the first visit to a health care provider is repeated in further visits subconsciously and inadvertently. Such people have risk of developing a heart disease, the intensity of which lies between the risks of a person suffering from hypertension and risk attached to a person having normal blood pressure.
In other words, due to above syndrome, cardiovascular risk of a person increases but not as high as risk attached to a person with high blood pressure. One aspect that should be understood is that in white coat syndrome, high blood pressure occurs due to visit to a clinical setting and not necessarily because of visiting a health care provider. In other words, white coat syndrome can also be experienced if a person is treated or handled by a nurse or some other support staff.
Diagnosis of white coat syndrome is bit difficult as the conventional methods of measuring blood pressure often contain error. For example, blood pressure, in most of cases, is measured by sphygmomanometer, in which, readings vary considerably. Similarly, there are technical inaccuracies, due to which, it becomes very difficult to confirm if patient is having above syndrome or not. However, if blood pressure is measured through automated instruments, more accuracy can be gained.
Another aspect regarding white coat syndrome that must be understood is that it is not necessary that increased blood pressure of a person at a given clinical setting is followed by tachycardia. If a person is overweight or has some sort of heart diseases, complete check becomes necessary for diagnosing white coat syndrome.
Avoiding And Dealing White Coat Syndrome
There are some steps that can be taken for avoiding and dealing above syndrome. First of all, if a person is already suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure, it is better if he takes prescribed medicines before visiting health care provider. This would prevent blood pressuring from going up during the visit. In no manner, above syndrome should be considered as a form of denial of hypertension. Similarly, by restricting the consumption of water, white coat syndrome can be avoided to a certain extent.
If health care provider has to be visited in evening, it is better if a person stops drinking water from afternoon. Lower water intake results in low blood pressure and during the visit, hypertension is avoided. Similarly, many people have developed habit of going to washroom for passing urine before meeting the health care provider. This also keeps blood pressure low. On the other hand, full urinary bladder raises the blood pressure. However, these steps should be undertaken by those people only who otherwise do not have high blood pressure.
White coat syndrome can also be avoided if a person listens to a pleasant music while visiting the clinic or hospital. Vehicle must be driven slowly so that attention is diverted. There are many calming tunes or music available at stores. These can be listened to while on the way to visiting a health care provider. For this purpose, iPod or MP3 player can be used. As a matter of fact, a person should do all the things that help him in getting relaxed.
If there is any sort of stress, it must be kept aside while visiting the clinic. A relaxed person is less likely to suffer from hypertension while visiting a health care provider. Similarly, a person must walk slowly into the room or chamber of doctor. Steps taken hurriedly increase the chances of occurring of white coat syndrome. Also, there must not be any other sort of physical exertion, as it can result in high blood pressure.
It is also very important that a person stays in the chamber of health care provider in a relaxed manner. One of best ways of ensuring same is to do meditation and keep smiling. For shorter durations, eyes can be closed. If it seems that wait for meeting doctor is going to be long, even a power nap can be taken. This would not only keep a person relaxed but also would keep blood pressure at lower levels. Similarly, for relaxing, deep breathing can be done. For lowering the blood pressure, reducing breathing to six times in a minute is sufficient. This practice can be carried out daily. Breathing exercise, otherwise also, is considered as good for people suffering from hypertension.
Aromatherapy can also help in avoiding high blood pressure at clinic to a certain extent. There are many aromatic mixtures available in the market that can be used for this type of therapy. Small quantities of these mixtures can be dabbed on pulse points. Some people also add few drops of these mixtures to a cleansing tissue and carry them along.
There are certain actions that increase the blood pressure. Such actions must be avoided. For example, coffee should not be consumed before visiting a health care provider, as it increases blood pressure. Even some people do not eat anything so that they are not encountered with white coat syndrome. Similarly, arguments must be avoided to the maximum before visiting a clinic, as arguments also increases blood pressure.
It is also necessary that a person tells health care provider about white coat syndrome. This would help him in prescribing appropriate medications. It has also been observed that people suffering from white coat syndrome are often prescribed with high blood pressure medications. This is done as there is a probability of a person suffering from high blood pressure during other stressful occasions in life.