I don’t know how much medical info I want to divulge, but I have BP that hovers between pre and mild hypertension. I also have some anxiety issues. I’ve had my BP taken enough times to know my normal readings.
A few years ago due to stress I tried some otc herbs. I didn’t know they could increase blood pressure as a side effect. When I got it measured my BP was 25 points higher than normal and the clinician freaked out. I quit the herb and it came back down to baseline in a few days. The herbs temporarily increased it but when I quit it went back down.
Ever since I am terrified to have my BP taken. It doesn’t matter if it is at home or at a clinical office. My fear is that it will be severely high which will make the doctor freak out. He will start telling me my internal organs are being damaged and demand I go to the er. Fear of this happening causes a BP spike. When my BP spikes my systolic and pulse each goes up by 30-60, diastolic goes up by 30. You’d think a smart doctor would realize my 24/7 pulse isn’t 140 bpm but you’d be wrong. Some don’t believe me when I say it is just a panic attack and it is normally lower.
Aside from this I don’t have panic disorder. It. Is extremely rare outside of having my BP taken for me to panic and see my pulse jump by 50 bpm. Even in near car accidents my pulse doesn’t spike that much.
I don’t think it is white coat hypertension. I’m not scared of doctors, I’m scared of sphygmomanometers. If I can see a doc without getting my BP read my pulse never jumps.
It’s a nasty cycle that makes me avoid doctors. Reading up online other people with anxiety have the same problem. It bothers me because I avoid the doctor due to this phobia.
What can a patient say to a doc that will help reduce the fear? If I don’t think the doc will panic and possibly do something like demand I go to the er I probably won’t panic either.
Even when I take it myself it is still elevated because I’m terrified a high reading means I am undergoing organ damage. Like I said, I’ve had it taken a lot over the years and it is not anywhere near as high when I’m not panicking. But I don’t know how not to panic about it. Maybe I need exposure therapy.
“White Coat Syndrome” is a widely used expression, for people whose BP always rises when someone with a white coat straps on the cuff. The medical profession recognizes it, and tries to work with a patient who exhibits it, to determine the actual resting BP that represents the true blood pressure.
In most cases, the patient will read much lower when he takes is own BP on a self=measuring device.
Please keep in mind that the majority of techs (and doctors, too) do not take BP properly. High BP is determined by a whole passel of readings over a specific length of time. Those machines in WalMart, et al, may not be 100% accurate, but if you take 20 readings over a couple of months and they are all similar, that might bring your anxiety level down. A doctor is not going to send you to the ER for high BP readings (and what’s he gonna do? Strap you down to a gurney and call the ambulance?), he’s going to prescribe medication to bring it down. Relax. 50% of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their class.
I experience the same problem (anxiety) when I am having my blood pressure taken by a doctor, nurse, etc. One time my blood pressure was so high, the doctor thought the blood pressure machine could be broken, and he brought in another blood pressure machine from another office. The machine wasn’t broken, but my blood pressure was indeed very high. On the other hand, my blood pressure is quite good when I take it at home. I have since learned that caffeine can be a culprit. Do you drink any caffeinated beverages? Caffeine is tricky, if one has a caffeinated beverage and is not under any stress, there is very little, if any, anxiety or increase in blood pressure, but if the same individual is having a caffeinated beverage and gets a distressing phone call, etc., their anxiety level and blood pressure can increase dramatically.
I once had a physician tell me to go to the ER if my BP was ever over 180/110. That really, really helped my anxiety because now I’m terrified to have it taken for fear it will be over 180/110.
I used to sell plasma in college, and they take your BP each time. I’ve had it taken a couple hundred times in the last 10 years, mostly due to selling plasma, and I know my baseline/normal readings pretty well. Somewhere in the pre/mild range.
Whitney Harper Caffeine is not the culprit, fear of a high reading is why I panic. Before I took those damn ‘stress relieving’ herbs I never panicked when my BP was taken irrelevant of whether I was drinking caffeine at the time or not. Now it has become a major problem to the point where I avoid the doctor even when I need to go for fear they will take my BP.
The phenomenon is sometimes called “white coat hypertension.” I have it myself – my bp goes sky high whenever I’m in a medical setting. The trick for me is to take my bp after I’m dressed to leave. This reading is always normal.
Doctors are aware of the syndrome, and in my experience are usually more than willing to take a second reading on the way out the door.
Would you care to share those numbers? Labels like “pre/mild range” do nothing. Again, if your BP was 180/110 for an extended period your doctor would start you on meds, but trip to the ER? WTH? As far as “organ damage,” the big evil is stroke, followed by heart attack. Also keep in mind, doctors have been bringing those numbers down for several years; the standard for many decades was 140/90. Now they’re trying to stick everyone with 120/80. Those are very hard numbers to achieve, think it has anything to do with trying to sell more BP meds? It would be nice if everyone’s BP was 00/00; no stress on your heart or brain or arteries/veins. But you would also be dead. The first number will jump all over the place all day long, depending on activity level and other factors, the second number is more to be concerned about, especially if, as has been said, it’s consistently high. IANADr., I just have high BP, on meds.
I only get it at a doctor’s office. Never at a blood drive and never when using a home machine.
I was on a cycle for a while where I would give blood and then a week or two later have a doctor’s appointment. I’d always have a perfectly fine reading at the blood drive then high at the doc’s.
I’d say it’s only my GP’s office, because it’s always fine at the gyno’s. But I went to a different doctor, a specialist, not too long ago and it was high. I told them I had “white coat syndrome.” They brought in this machine that did 10 readings over X amount of time, and left me alone in the room with the machine and a magazine. My BP was fine.
I did a BP drug study at a local large medical center, and they gave me a monitoring machine for home use. After using it a few days I got very anxious, because it also measured your heart rate and beeped for each pulse.
I think the sensor was not very accurate, because everyone 30 seconds or so there would be a “skipped” beat. Then at the end of the session it would state “irregular heartbeat detected”, which of course drove up my BP. The stupid thing had no way to turn off (or turn down) the beeper, so I put the machine under pillows and listened to music while taking the readings. The doctors of course said don’t worry about the machine, but it really freaked me out.
So in my case it wasn’t “white coat syndrome”, it was “beeping machine syndrome”.
I don’t fear the reading, I just fear the inflating of the cuff! I get scared it’s going to keep going and strangle my arm, cut off all the blood till it’s blue, and snap the bone in two. Even when they do it manually it makes me cringe. The one they do in the hospital that inflates automatically every 15 minutes - pure torture! I’d take 1000 needles to avoid having my blood pressure taken. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But I really hate it!
I think it was 160/95, then it was dropped to 140/90, now it is 120/80. The standards keep getting stricter. The book overtreated discusses this, how when you get into the pre and mild stages the side effects of the drugs are worse than the disease itself.
My BP with no medication when I’m not stressed is about 150/95. With HCTZ that tends to drop it about 10 points.
I also have it. Another term is ‘cuff reactor’. I was extremely nervous in general about doctor’s visits too but it also happened in other situations. In my case, telling my doctor about it really helped things in general. I developed a really counterproductive fear response to somewhat normal situations like being forced to stand in line for an extended period of time, security checkpoints or basically any time I thought that people might be scrutinizing me. It wasn’t just a normal nervous reaction, it was basically seizures. My heart rate would shoot up quite high, my blood pressure would go through the roof, tunnel vision would set in, I had trouble speaking and I couldn’t stand in one place without the real risk of my legs giving out. I was fearless about things other people tend to be afraid of but the fear of fear itself starting feeding back on itself.
I didn’t mind if the doctor did anything except force me to sit still for even a short period to take blood pressure readings. He finally recognized that I needed a common beta blocker that doesn’t do anything except prevent the adverse adrenaline response that I was having. That has been a cheap but completely effective wonder drug for symptoms I have had for most of my life. I wish he had prescribed it many years ago. I can do anything now without the risk of my heartbeat and blood pressure going off-scale. Sometimes I still feel a very mild increase but it is nothing compared to what used to happen.
Your condition may not be the same but it may be worth asking your doctor about a beta blocker if you find your body producing an overactive stress response to normal situations. They can usually fix that easily and cheaply.
I had a doctor prescribe a beta blocker for BP once. I couldn’t take it because of side effects (but I only tried that one BB, who knows if the others in that class would have that same side effect). However whenever I go into have my BP taken I take a beta blocker an hour or two beforehand so the spike isn’t as severe.
I’ve always understood white coat syndrome to be specific to BP but not necessarily to a doctor’s office. So, some people white coat only in a doctor’s office and their readings at home are fine. Others white coat anytime they take a BP reading, whether in the office or at home. The difference is in the cause. Is your BP high because you are nervous about the doctor/visit? Then it will probably be fine at home or when you are leaving the office. Is your BP high because you are worried about the impact of a high BP reading? Then it will likely always read high.
My story is similar to yours. My BP was always fine, even though hypertension runs in my family. Then, in my early thirties, I got a high reading (140/90). Since then, I’ve been nervous about BP measures. To remedy this, I take my BP every day at home and I use relaxation and visualization techniques to get my focus off of the reading. My home readings are recorded on a phone app so I can show them to my doctor if my readings at the office are high. I still white coat, but it’s less often and less extreme.