Posted on Mar 29, 2014

Many people who normally do not have any health problems are surprised to find out that they have high blood pressure after a visit to their doctor’s office. What is causing this high blood pressure?

CBS news reports on the puzzling questions surrounding high blood pressure.

A new study shows that your high blood pressure might be caused by the actual visit to the doctor’s office.

People tend to get stressed and nervous about visits to their physician’s office out of fear for what new illness or health problem the doctor might find. This tension might be the real reason for the high blood pressure that might be reported during your visit.

When a patient exhibits high blood pressure they are often prescribed medication to lower it as high blood pressure can lead to problems such as a heart attack. But for patients who do not truly have high blood pressure, and are merely exhibiting it due to the doctor’s office visit, this expensive medication is unnecessary.

“Patients' blood pressure readings are notably higher when they're taken by a doctor. This link between doctors and higher blood pressure readings is known as the ‘white coat effect,’ and is believed to be the result of patients being more nervous when examined by a physician. This effect has been noted in a number of previous studies, but this new paper is the first to confirm it, according to the study authors,” according to CBS.

The physician who authored the study made a statement saying, “Doctors should continue to measure blood pressure as part of the assessment of an ill patient or a routine check-up, but not where clinical decisions on blood pressure treatment depend on the outcome. The difference we noted is enough to tip some patients over the threshold for treatment for high blood pressure, and unnecessary medication can lead to unwanted side effects. Some patients may be erroneously asked to continue to monitor their own blood pressure at home, which can build anxiety. These inappropriate measures could all be avoided by the simple measure of someone other than a doctor taking the blood pressure recording.”


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Gerry Oginski
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