Another way to uncover white coat syndrome is to have the doctor provide a small portable monitor to wear for about 24 hours. The device measures blood pressure every 15 to 20 minutes during the day and every 30 to 60 minutes during sleep. Using the data it then calculates your average day time blood pressure and average night time blood pressure.
Both methods will help doctors determine whether you’re truly hypertensive or if your high blood pressure in the office is due to white coat syndrome. For hypertensive patients, it’s helpful to see if your current treatments are working.
If your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg, it’s considered normal. If your blood pressure falls between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, you have pre-hypertension. If your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or greater, you have hypertension or high blood pressure. For a 24 hour monitoring device, normal average blood pressure should be less than 130/80 mmHg. Your day time blood pressure has to be less than 135/85 mmHg to be normal. Night time blood pressure has to be less than 120/70 mmHg to be normal.
If you have white coat syndrome or hypertension, you should make a few changes in your lifestyle. These include:
- Cut down salt (sodium) in your meals
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Keep yourself physically active
- Quit smoking if you smoke
- Avoid alcoholic drinks
- Get a home blood pressure monitor
- Reduce stress at home and work by learning relaxation techniques and meditation
- Avoid smoking, caffeinated drinks, and exercise before going to your doctor’s appointment
Patients with white coat syndrome are at risk for developing high blood pressure in the future. Studies showed that people with white coat syndrome have slightly higher risk for heart diseases and stroke compared to people with normal blood pressure.
Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.