Watch White Coat Hypertension

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Blood Pressure
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Often when patients come to my office, I will find their blood pressure levels to be high. However, when they go home and measure it themselves, their blood pressure levels are normal. Occasionally they’ll ask if the instruments in my office are off, or if my staff misread the result.

The actual problem, however, is a common condition called white coat hypertension. It’s used to describe people who become anxious over a visit to a physician, holistic health practitioner, dentist, or other medical facility. Such visits evoke a fight-or-flight response, and their blood pressure levels go up. But research has shown that abnormally high blood pressure readings in a medical setting could be more than just a benign byproduct of anxiety. Although the condition is poorly understood, WCH could be a precursor to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

A Danish study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension found a heightened cardiovascular event risk for patients with WCH over a 10-year period. A Japanese study reported in the journal Hypertension Research suggests that white coat hypertension contributes to carotid arteriosclerosis. And in another Japanese medical report, based on eight years of observation, researchers suggest that white coat hypertension is a “transitional condition to hypertension” and may carry a “poor cardiovascular prognosis.”

If you experience white coat hypertension, I suggest you introduce a regular stress-reduction program into your life. That could include activities such as exercise, T'ai chi, meditation, or yoga.

You may also want to start taking blood pressure-friendly supplements on a daily basis—such as fish oil (2–3 grams), magnesium (400–800 mg), hydrosoluble CoQ10 (100–200 mg), and a garlic supplement high in allicin (500–1,000 mg).

Finally, consider my book, Lower Your Blood Pressure in Eight Weeks (Ballantine Books, 2003). It has lots of great, practical tips for lowering blood pressure levels.

For more information on natural ways to lower blood pressure, visit www.drsinatra.com. While there, sign up for FREE e-letters or subscribe to Dr. Sinatra’s monthly newsletter, Heart, Health & Nutrition.

 

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