White Coat Syndrome

by Caron on March 14, 2017

white coat syndrome. this image shows a doctor in a white coat taking someones blood pressure.

White Coat Syndrome

Have you heard of this syndrome? Until yesterday I hadn’t, so I decided I had better write an article on it as I think this affects me!

I visited my GP following a health check in a supermarket pharmacy when my blood pressure reading was dangerously high. I was advised not to ignore this warning and duly made an appointment. Again, at the doctor’s, my BP was high and along with another couple of admissions… I was deemed to be at risk of a cardiac episode and booked in for an ECG and bloods the following week.

I also left with 4 prescribed medicines, including GTN spray, beta blockers, a statin and aspirin. Yes, I was lucky to get to see a GP so swiftly but I did feel like a prescription challenge had to be met! Hmmmmn over prescribing or just being precautious?

White Coat Syndrome.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) estimates that up to 7 million people in the UK may have undiagnosed hypertension (high blood pressure) often referred to as the “silent killer” because it is often without obvious symptoms, but can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

White coat syndrome is where someone’s blood pressure gives an inaccurate reading, either too low or too high in a medical environment. Readings that are taken at home often provide a more realistic picture.

One explanation for misreadings is that the stress around a visit to the doctor can cause artificially high blood pressure or that for some patients may be so calmed by the presence of medical professionals and their bedside manners, that it causes their blood pressure to read lower. It is recommended that over-40s should go for regular NHS health checks, to ensure their hearts aren’t working harder than they should be.

It is recommended that all over 40s should go for regular NHS health checks, to ensure their hearts aren’t working harder than they should be.

I have bought myself a home monitor from OMRON and will monitor my readings at home for a period of time. I will post them here to emphasise the case. My reading in the health check was 180/103 the doctor’s, was 169/95 and at home it at one point was 148/87, still high but much lower. It is recommended that you take it 3 times a day and take the average measure.

My Blood pressure monitor is the OMRON M2 Basic as shown below. It is a robust monitor and very easy to use. I would recommend you keep an eye on your blood pressure and see a GP if it does rise. The lower number, the diastolic is the danger indicator.

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