“White coat effect” worse than first thought

By , May 8, 2010 10:12 am

The ‘white-coat’ effect – where blood pressure rises during a check by a doctor – is even worse in someone whose level is already high, researchers say.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, an Australian team say giving people a cuff to wear for 24 hours is a better way of checking blood pressure, as it heps to reduce the stress and anxiety of the examination.

The researchers monitored over 8,500 patients who were being assessed at 11 blood pressure clinics around Australia. They compared ambulatory blood pressure measurements with those taken by doctors and nurses and found that there can be a difference of as much as 29 units if a doctor checked it, compared with a rise of 17 units if a nurse took the measurement.

The differences also varied depending on the sex and age of the patient.

However, the study also found that the closer the patient’s blood pressure to normal levels, the less of a difference between measurements taken by ambulatory monitoring and those taken by a nurse or doctor.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of the Blood Pressure Association, said: “This is interesting research which clearly illustrates how external factors such as environment and who is checking blood pressure can have a significant impact on blood pressure readings.

“Many people feel slightly anxious when going to see a doctor, which is why we have always encouraged blood pressure measuring at home as well as in the clinic, and promotes the use of home blood pressure monitors and ambulatory testing where indicated.

Read the full article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8667638.stm

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