Medical Q&As

Blood pressure - white coat effect?

I am 41-year-old male and I hate having blood pressure readings taken either at home or with my GP. My pulse rate rises very quickly. Is there any help?

The scenario you describe is common and doctors refer to this phenomenon as “white coat hypertension”. In other words the sight of the doctor in a white coat will of itself raise the patient’s blood pressure. Most doctors will factor in this elevation when assessing the significance of a particular blood pressure reading. In such situations the pulse rate also rises. Such occasional rises in pressure are not of any great significance. It is the persistence of elevated blood pressure over an extended period of time that impacts on the cardiovascular system. It is not clear from your question if you have been diagnosed as suffering from hypertension. If you have not been so diagnosed I would advise that you throw away your home monitor so that you are not stressing yourself unnecessarily. Home BP monitors are excellent devices but if they generate all this fear for you I actually don’t think that using one is healthy for you. Let your doctor measure your blood pressure opportunistically when you attend for other reasons and let him allow for the white coat effect.