White Coat Syndrome Overview
The term white coat syndrome (WCS) which became commonly known as white coat hypertension first began to be used in the early 1980s when researchers noticed that blood pressure readings, the pulse, systolic and diastolic blood pressure continuously rose noticeably when a physician entered the patient's room in a hospital. The term 'white coat' itself is an iconic representation of the doctor's white coat which somewhat causes "terror" in the patient.
Along side white coat hypertension, there is yet another phenomenon called white coat effect (WCE). This particularly refers to blood pressure raising in a patient from the time they leave home to the time they arrive at the doctor's office then lowering again after settling for a while in the doctor's office.
White coat hypertension is associated with a patient feeling anxious seeing a doctor armed with an apparatus or simply being in the doctor's office. Nervous tension in the patient is known to elevate blood pressure unrealistically. This makes it difficult to establish what the patient's true blood pressure is.
White coat syndrome is so much prevalent in most people who record high blood pressure at the doctor's office, clinic or hospital. The real danger associated with white coat hypertension lies in inappropriate hypertension medication prescription which then follows. In other words, if undetected, white coat phenomenon can lead to aggressive hypertension treatment in a patient that is not really in need of treatment. The end result might even be tragic due to blood pressure medication side effects.
A white coat hypertension patient might even show symptoms of high blood pressure such as dizziness and headaches. In any environment outside the doctor's office, clinic or hospital a person suffering from white coat syndrome will give normal blood pressure readings or at least less than what readings are measured in a doctor's office under the white coat phenomenon.
Repeated prior visits to the hospital or doctor's office and receiving bad news in these visits has been reported to be behind life-time white coat hypertension in particular individuals. The real causes behind white coat phenomenon apart from anxiety and general stress of dealing with the outcome of a blood pressure reading may also be technical.
For example, it is possible to get false reports of white coat hypertension if a medical professional measuring blood pressure is not fully in the know of how to take blood pressure accurately and effectively. Use of a wrong size cuff for example may squeeze the patient's arm causing anxiety as well as giving wrong inflated blood pressure readings. A tightly fitting cuff will result in inflated blood pressure readings.
All in all there are no traceable traits that link a certain group of people to white coat syndrome susceptibility. This means as far as what is currently known about the phenomenon there is no genetics involved nor any physical, gender or health qualifications linking people to white coat hypertension.
In recent years the rapid advancement of technology has given doctors relief in as far as finding a solution in dealing with white coats hypertension is concerned. Modern digital home blood pressure monitors such as the Omron blood pressure monitor, Samsung, Relion and other leading brands make it fairly easy for patients to measure blood pressure at home.
Blood pressure white coat syndrome and pregnancy
White coat hypertension and pregnancy in women is also a common problem. Women who are pregnant are not spared from the white coat phenomenon. Some women have reported falsely elevated blood pressure at each visit to the prenatal clinic especially towards the end of the pregnancy as a result of fear of hospital staff resolving inducing them into labor.
White coat syndrome in pregnant women appears to be as a result of many different factors particularly those associated with the pregnancy itself. For example, some women who would have had miscarriages before will automatically have their blood pressure raising for fear of bad news about the baby at the doctor's office. Some pregnant women also generally are anxious visiting a hospital or medical institution and seeing needles and machinery stuck into sick people. This also leads to white coat hypertension.
Blood pressure white coat syndrome treatment
Many people who suffer from white coat hypertension including pregnant women are desperate to find a remedy for the phenomenon. These remedies in this section aim to reduce anxiety and make a patient feel comfortable or at least at peace with visiting a doctor or the hospital.
Relaxation- has been observed to be beneficial. This can be applied in a manner that removes your mental engagement at that particular time away from the hospital or doctor's office. Relaxation will help you focus on other things without increasing your heart rate.
Therapy - some white coat hypertension patients prefer the use of therapy with a professional therapist. Therapists will teach methods of relaxation that counter anxiety and stress and general fear that might grip someone visiting the doctor. They may also prescribe medications including some herbal remedies known to help in relaxation.
Meditation - meditation is yet another form of white coat hypertension treatment. Meditation will involve controlling your breathing which in turn will help you manage anxiety and stress which are known to elevate blood pressure.
Herbal remedies - there are known herbal remedies that help people to relax. These are available in capsules as supplements or direct from your fruit and veggies market in fresh form. However, there is need to consult your doctor or specialist concerning using relaxation herbs to counter white coat syndrome.
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