What Is White Coat Syndrome?
Credit: Blood pressure check photo via Shutterstock

Question: What is white coat syndrome?

Answer: If you suffer from white coat syndrome, your blood pressure jumps as soon as a doctor or nurse approaches you. If your doctor knows this, he or she may recommend a home blood-pressure monitor or ambulatory monitor that is worn around the clock and takes your pressure every half hour.

Blood pressure tends to spike when you are excited by an emotion such as anger or fear. But high blood pressure — known as hypertension — is very sneaky. It's called the silent killer, because it usually has no symptoms.

Doctors say you have high blood pressure if you have a reading of 140/90 or higher. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 or lower is considered normal. Prehypertension is blood pressure between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number.

The first number represents your systolic pressure when the heart beats. The second number represents the diastolic pressure when the heart rests. If only one number is elevated, you still have high blood pressure with all of its dangers.

When you go to your doctor to have your blood pressure taken, there are a few things you can do to get an accurate reading. First, don't drink coffee or smoke cigarettes for a half hour before your pressure is taken. (What are you doing smoking anyway?). Empty your bladder, because a full tank can affect the reading. Sit quietly for five minutes before the test.

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All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti

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