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Blood pressure measurements that are higher at your home than at your doctor's office could be caused by an error in measuring your blood pressure at home or a decrease in your stress level at your doctor's office.
Having lower blood pressure measurements at the doctor's office than at home is called masked hypertension. Masked hypertension can occur if a calm, quiet environment at your doctor's office is less stressful than your home environment. Use of alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes at home can also increase blood pressure.
However, some people feel more stress and anxiety when visiting the doctor. Having higher blood pressure at your doctor's office than at your home is called white-coat hypertension.
Be sure that your home blood pressure monitor is accurate and that you're using the correct technique. If you're not sure, ask your doctor. He or she may ask you to bring the home blood pressure monitor to the office. You may measure your blood pressure in one arm with the home monitor while your doctor measures your blood pressure in the other arm with the office equipment.
Some people consistently get different blood pressure readings outside the doctor's office — even when blood pressure is measured correctly and repeatedly. If your home blood pressure readings are accurate and consistently higher than those at your doctor's office, you might be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will likely manage your blood pressure based on the higher readings.
Fouad Chebib. M.D.
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