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Monday, October 15, 2012

010 White Coat Syndrome

Have you ever experienced a severe spike in anxiety and blood pressure when you know you are going to the doctor or at the doctor's office? If so then you might be suffering from white coat syndrome. I personally didn't believe in this at one point and time. BUT then I started going to the doctor with my hubby, Jimmy.

Jimmy doesn't like doctors. He doesn't like needles, and he doesn't like waiting. All these things combined can make for a very stressful doctors visit. Especially when you combine a couple of those elements in the same visit. These things have a very real effect on his blood pressure.

I have been in a doctor's visit where they took Jimmy's blood pressure upon entering the exam room and found it to be high. Then upon his request they would take it after he had time to talk to the nurses and laugh things off and it has been as much as 15 points lower in both numbers.

If you are like Jimmy and the doctor is monitoring your blood pressure closely then you want to make sure that they get an accurate reading. Here are some things that you need to consider to get the most accurate blood pressure reading at the doctor's office:

  • Are they using the right size blood pressure cuff?
    • Jimmy has large arms because he is over weight so they have to use a thigh sized cuff to get an accurate reading on his upper arm.
    • If they attempt to use a cuff that is too small then your readings will be high and vice versa if the cuff is too large.
  • Are they taking your blood pressure in the same place each visit?
    • Jimmy's blood pressure varies greatly when they take readings in his forearm versus his upper arm.
    • Forearm readings (at least in Jimmy's case) are higher approx. 99% of the time.
  • Have you considered asking the nurse to take a second blood pressure reading after you have had a few moments to get settled in the exam room?
    • Answering the mundane health questions they ask every visit often takes your mind off the anxiety of the visit and helps you calm down.
    • You may get a better reading if you have your blood pressure taken at this time.

Please remember that I am not a doctor but these are things that we have found to be true in Jimmy's case. Maybe you can find something in here that can help you too. Rest assured that White Coat Symptom is a very real thing and can drastically effect your blood pressure and heart rate.

Until Next Time,

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