My blood pressure is always higher in a medical setting than it is at home. Why is this?

Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

You could have white coat hypertension. This means your blood pressure is higher at a healthcare professional's office than in other settings, such as at home. It's called white coat hypertension because people who measure blood pressure sometimes wear white coats.

The stress of a health checkup may be the cause of white coat hypertension. It was once thought that if blood pressure goes up during a medical appointment but drops after, the change isn't a concern.

But some healthcare professionals now think that white coat hypertension can be a concern. It might raise the risk of getting long-term high blood pressure. People with white coat hypertension also might have a higher risk of heart or blood vessel disease and organ damage, compared with people who have steady, ideal blood pressure.

The same might be true for people who have masked hypertension. That means their blood pressure is OK at the healthcare professional's office, but it can go up when checked in other places. It's thought that even these temporary rises in blood pressure could turn into a long-term health concern.

If you have white coat hypertension, talk to your healthcare team about watching your condition at home. They might ask you to wear a device, such as an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, to track your blood pressure for up to 24 hours. This measures blood pressure during activity and at rest. Checking your blood pressure at home can help your healthcare team learn if your high blood pressure needs treatment.


Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.

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June 13, 2024 See more Expert Answers

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