White coat hypertension: I'm wondering if anyone on... - NRAS


33,902 members42,078 posts

White coat hypertension

Knip profile image
54 Replies

I'm wondering if anyone on here has experienceof White Coat Hypertension. I suffer it quite badly. It can go as high as 208/78 but is usually around 185/70. However, I normally have low blood pressure around 105/55. I have just had a DOPLA scan, which they have said might not show anything because of the raised BP at the time. It was checked three times beforehand at five minute intervals but it only came down a little. My question is, can I do anything to stop it? It's ridiculous. I have tried breathing exercises, meditation and arriving twenty minutes early (the latter seems to make it worse). I chartedd my BP results four times a day two weeks recently and the highest it went was 135/60...after exercising. I even borrowed a monitor and bought a new one from Boots to make sure that the readings were accurate. This happens if I get nervous at all, and I am fairly calm most of the time, but easily startled. Any suggestions would be really welcome. Thank you in advance. Knip.

54 Replies
AgedCrone profile image

TBH I don’t think there is anything to be done…WC Hypertension or Syndrome occurs in all sorts of different situations…not just going to see the doctor or the dentist….& the more you try to control it….the less well people seem to cope.

But as you know you have it, when you obviously accept there is nothing to be nervous of….I should think all you could do is accept it will happen….& try not to have too many doctor appointments!

Sorry not to have a more positive answer.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to AgedCrone

Actually AC your reply was positive in that it made me laugh re trying not to have too many medical appointments! Thanks for you reply. I do appreciate it. Take care, Kx

Fruitandnutcase profile image

I get white coat syndrome too - the person taking my BP doesn’t even have to be wearing one or a uniform of any sort. it. It’s ridiculous really. I even used to get it doing it myself on the surgery’s automatic machine. Mind you who would have thought placing the machine and a chair in a busy corridor where people passed up and down all the time?

Anyway, a few years ago I was taking part in a medical study and as part of it I had my BP taken. It was automatic too but the nurse set it up - she didn’t speak while it was on, it recorded my BP then five minutes later it went off again and then did it again a third time. Each time we just sat quietly while the machine was at work. The machine calibrated an average and I couldn’t believe how good the reading was - my BP was not high.

From then on I’ve done my own at home and I do it the same way, sit quietly or I sometimes read, I definitely don’t talk, I leave five minutes between each try, then I do a sum and work out the average of the five readings. I keep a chart which I drop off for the GP every now and again. No problems.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Fruitandnutcase

I have taken my record taken over a four week period to my GP, who confirmed it is normally low. It is listed in my notes with an average of 105/55. I am easily startled...in that I even yelp if I suddenly hear an unexpected voice speaking immediatebly behind me when I'm at home,,.even if it's my husband! He finds it amusiing, of course! I'm not wishing it on anyone but it is good to know that I'm not alone. Take care, Knip.

Fruitandnutcase profile image
Fruitandnutcase in reply to Knip

I know exactly what you mean. I’m a bit like that myself and no it’s not funny. I blame it on a very annoying, horrible younger brother who thought it was great fun to scare the daylights out of me by hiding and leaping out on me. 70 odd years later I still get a fright when someone appears unexpectedly. I’m glad your doctor accepts your figures, that helps doesn’t it.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Fruitandnutcase

Yes, it does. help that the readings are accepted. I, too, was often teased by my younger brother who thought it very funny to scare me. I used to have terrible nightmares as a child with a witch chasing me before I just mananged to escape! My horrible younger brother grew up to be a super older brother and once he was not living under the same roof we got on really well! Hope that yours did too. Take care, Knip.

Miasnana profile image
Miasnana in reply to Fruitandnutcase

I was so pleased to read your reply to Knip as I have the exactly the same reaction to both doctors nurses and at home readings. Makes me feel less of a drama queen.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Miasnana

Miasnana...yes, you aren't alone. I have been surprised at how many of us suffer from it. Kx

Egpa profile image
Egpa in reply to Fruitandnutcase

Hi Fruitnutcase, thats what i have to do, if they want reading too. Good luck, take care and stay safe.

rmros profile image

Some of us experience a stress response in situations that aren't inherently stressful. We know about it when our BP is taken at the doctors, but it's likely happening in other situations too and we're blissfully unaware. It could just as easily be called supermarket checkout hypertension if we had our BP measured in Waitrose.

There is some research being done about the long term effects of this, but I'd just take the advice that anybody is given on maintaining good heart health and accepting the things you can't change. If you were really concerned you could ask your practice nurse for a 24hr BP monitor, though that's a fairly stressful process in itself.

I ask not to have my blood pressure taken at appointments as it's always sky high and they never do anything about it so what's the point in increasing anxiety unnecessarily.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to rmros

Thank you for your reply rmros. It is helpful. I realise that i am going to have to accept that it is what it is and not get concerned about it. I had to smile at your comment about the Waitrose checkout...with the price of food going up so quickly I guess many of us might have a raised BP on seeing the bill! Take care, Knip.

Fruitandnutcase profile image
Fruitandnutcase in reply to rmros

Same here - I just tell doctors it’s a waste of time and they’re fine about it. It annoys me that they think you can talk all the way through them doing it.

I once told the doctor I didn’t want to speak while he was doing it which was ok but I could feel myself getting stressed knowing full well that he didn’t want to sit next to me in silence while he was taking it

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Fruitandnutcase

I know exactly what you mean! Even being told to lie still whilst it's done can kick mine up! It isn't a comfortable position for me anymore, so I think that's why! Ah well, at least we know we are not alone. Keep looking on the bright side. Kx

Pands profile image

I don’t know how to stop it but I am definitely in the gang! I just have to step into the drs office and I can start to feel anxious- I know if they want to do my BP it will be high.

I try not to worry too much as I now know taking it at home regularly (at all times of the day) it is fine. Every so often I have to take a spreadsheet to the dr and they update their readings.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Pands

Yes, I think having read the answers I am getting that we just have to take it in our stride and not get concerned about it. That certainly won't help matters, will it! I have an appointment in a couple of weeks for a follow up to the Dopla I have just had, so I will chart my BT for the next ten days or so and take it in with me. Thanks for your reply. Take care, Knip.

Deeb1764 profile image

not. Lot I’m afraid. M

I invested in a bp monitor as I get crazy readings so now send the report in every 3months to be checked as easier. Unfortunately not a lot can be done when in a machine and surrounded by white coats!

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Deeb1764

So true Deeb. I guess we have to just run with it and try not to get more stressed. The problem is that we know it is going to happen and no doubt that makes it worse! Kx

Downtime profile image

I don’t think you can do anything about it. I’m the same. One visit during lockdown it was 185 over something. The doc asked if I was ok and I was so agitated I could hardly speak. Mine is normally low 115 or so . It went down again of course. Definitely don’t go early as it will make it worse in my experience because you just have so much longer to think about it.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Downtime

Mine is usually about the same as yours. When I had a gastroscopy at the end of last year, they nearly diidn't go ahead because of my BP readings. I persuaded them to carry on with it and it was fine. I didn't have sedation but they did spray my throat. They made me wait until it had dropped a bit before I left the hospital though, just to be sure that I was OK. I didn't mind that at all as I was enjoying a cup of tea! Thank you for replying, Knip.

Indersisive71 profile image

I only have to hear the monitor inflate, and i can feel my anxiety start rising.I have tried breathing techniques it helps a little .it never use to bother me but couple of years ago the got a very high reading and carted me of to hospital. By the time i got to the hospital it had gone back to normal.since then i have this phobia. Sorry hope you get yours sorted

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Indersisive71

That must have been quite frightening for you. A very high reading does alarm people, doesn't it! Mine goes sky high in an ambulance, mostly because I don't think I need one and that someone else is probably in more need of it than me. The last time it happened was when I was taken to hospital on Christmas day when my BP had been alarmingly high enroute. It settled half an hour after arrival and stayed low for the rest of my stay in there. Take care, it helps to know we are not alone. God Bless, Knip.

Chris_O profile image


I think that I must suffer from WC hypertension, though I hadn’t realised it till just recently. After recently having a heart attack I go to cardiac rehab classes where we exercise and have our pulse and blood pressure checked. I know I have a low resting pulse, and some of the nurses make a big deal of it. So when my blood pressure gets checked it’s higher than normal!

Anyway, my solution to it is try not to give a s**t about situations like these, sometimes it works and sometimes not. My wife recommends mindfulness especially when she attends the dentist! Whatever gets you through the day.


Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Chris_O

I've tried all sorts of things Chris to no avail. Perhaps having read all the comments on here, I'll be able to just accept it and then it will go! The fact that we know it can happen probably makes it worse. Thanks for replying, Knip.

Monkeysmum profile image

I struggle with this sometimes too Knip, I think it stems back to a Drs visit in my late teens when I arrived late and super stressed straight from work, gave a high reading and then the nurse acted as if it was something really serious and I had to wear a monitor for 24 hours which showed my BP was in fact fine. I’m not sure there is a great deal you can do, only things which seem to make it better for me are if I am with someone I feel more comfortable with. Mine always seems ok when I have my regular blood checks for MTX with the lovely healthcare assistant at the GPs, but when I saw a different nurse earlier this week (and got stuck in traffic, and then couldn’t get parked, and then the receptionist couldn’t find my appointment etc etc etc!) it was high again. At least these days the Drs seem more understanding of it and more willing to take your home readings into account, but I appreciate that doesn’t really help with your DOPLA scan. Would they allow you to listen to some music on headphones during the scan so you can shut your eyes and just try to zone out a bit perhaps?

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Monkeysmum

Sorry to hear you have the same problem, Monkeysmum...I guess you have a little one who is fun to be a mum to! My BP readings at Rheumatology Appointments are higher than normal, but nowhere near as high as those elsewhere in other medical settings. I wonder why? Perhaps it's because we feel more comfortable being around others with the same medical condition. Before Lockdown we would usually be chatting amongst ourselves whilst waiting. Our healthcare support workers in the RA Dept are chatty too, which helps. It's a very friendly department. Take care, Knip.

Monkeysmum profile image
Monkeysmum in reply to Knip

I have two lovely monkeys Knip, although to be fair they are good kids really! I think knowing what to expect at the appointment might make a difference - our regular RA reviews generally all follow the same format - but when you go for a different reason it is more ‘unknown’? Perhaps your bp may be lower at your next Dopla scan just because you know what will happen this time? Will keep everything crossed for you. 🤞

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Monkeysmum

Thank you M. Do take lots of photos of your young ones. I love looking back on mine and showing my grandchildren what their daddy and their uncles got up to. On one occasion my youngest son had gone to the kitchen and and was photographed, sitting at the kitchen table, with a slice of bread and almost half a cucumber in it! That made them laugh! They love cucumber as much as he did! Take care, Kx

Monkeysmum profile image
Monkeysmum in reply to Knip

Your cucumber story made me smile Knip. My daughter loves cucumber too, so much so that when she was a toddler we would ask for some for her to nibble on in a restaurant whilst we were waiting for the food to come. Once they brought it to her chopped up into tiny cubes. After a while, we realised whilst we had been chatting away she had been quietly pushing the cubes of cucumber up her nose! Thought we were going to have to take a trip to A & E but once she started crying about it they worked their own way out! 🤣🤣

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Monkeysmum

Priceless! It's always good to share a chuckle. Enjoy them whilst you can, they grow up so quickly. They are equally special and you still get their hugs, so all is not lost! x

Plumcrumble profile image

yes, i always have to explain that i feel a bit nervous, they used to always do it before having a blood test, something after having them for 42 yrs still get apprehensive about.We now have a machine in the waiting room at the gps minus the blood test which helps. Also they have now said if you have a blood pressure machine at home you can give them a reading which i have, and i give them the best reading out of 3 😁 hope this helps best wishes Sarah

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Plumcrumble

Thanks Sarah. Every so often I am asked to take in two weeks reading and they accept that. I really appreciate your reply. I am surprised at how many of us on here suffer from it. Not wishing it on anyone else, it is comforting to know I'm not alone! Take care, Kx

Domhem profile image

I have it terribly and in my pregnancies they had to put me on blood pressure medication as they really didn’t know what a true reading was due to my anxiety. It stems from going to see multiple specialists when I was in my 30’s to work out what the joint pain was (7 years later turned into RA) but now even the mention of it makes me anxious, writing this even makes me anxious! I bought a machine, I do it at home, whilst listening to music or watching TV basically so my mind is elsewhere and it’s fine. I even went to hypnotherapy for it, just the way I am!

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Domhem

It must have been quite terrifying for you during your pregnancies, D. I don't think I had it that early on, thank goodness. Back in the mid sixties, it took them quite a while to get me diagnosed as well. I have two monitors at home, having bought a new one after my gastroscopy, in case mine was out of kilter...but both read the same. My GP is happy to accept my readings which they ask for every now again, taken over a two week period. Take care, Kx

chrisj99 profile image

I normally have low blood pressure, too low sometimes. I suffer from WC syndrome and I have had an operation stopped just before surgery. I have now started to get anxious about being anxious.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to chrisj99

Chris 99...my BP is too low sometimes, as well. It's crazy isn't it. I can understand why they wouldn't do the surgery. For my last hip replacement the anaesthetist just said 'you let me worry about your blood pressure'...which was very comforting! I do understand your comment about 'getting anxious about being anxious'...and I'm sure that makes us worse! Take care, Knip x

oldtimer2 profile image

I've had it all my life -I'm not even apparently nervous and an ex-health professional.

I think you just need to say every time that it happens and keep your own BP records.

The cardiologist I was referred to said that it was very common and just to keep my own BP recordings (which are sometimes on the low side especially if I'm feeling quite faint and wobbly in the mornings). He recommended a litre of fluid (preferably water) in the mornings after I get up to prevent the 'wobbles', as I call them and moving around more slowly in the mornings.

But it's a nuisance, because the nurses get all concerned and keep referring me onto someone else which wastes appointments.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to oldtimer2

Oldtimer, apart from the early morning wobbles (which happen to me occasionally) I am very much like you in that you mind wasting appointments. I think being referred, as you have been by nurses, who are undoubtedly thinking of your welfare, doesn't help matters. I will bear the litre of water in mind for when I get a bit wobbly in future. Thank you for replying. K.

Green230461 profile image
Green230461 in reply to oldtimer2

so frustrating when you know it is just what your body does💐

Green230461 profile image

I have an arrangement with my doctor now. I do a week of blood pressure checks at home and email them in to the surgery every six months!

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Green230461

That's good, Green. I am asked to drop mine in from time to time and I'm happy to do so, having taken it at different times of day for two weeks. I do take it inbetween if I feel a bit stressed about something and it rises then, but not to the extent of when I'm having a medical procedure. Take care, Knip.

J1707- profile image

yep. My mom had it so bad they gave up taking it . She use to do it at home and report the reading herself.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to J1707-

That made far more sense J. I am finding, reading all the helpful replies, happier that it is relatively common. Thank you , Knip.

Nuthatch profile image

Absolutely, it’s always higher or much higher when the gp does it, luckily they accept that and I was advised when doing it at home (infrequently) to do three readings and use the final one. It’s interesting that it does tend to get lower across the three.

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Nuthatch

Yes, I do it three times...it varies a little each time. Thank you, Knip.

Jeppy profile image

I’ve found breathing the hold and release sequence does help

iv mastered a kind of ignore feelings technique which sounds odd granted It’s anxiety denial thing and I focus on an image mines a butterfly visualisation and ‘float ‘. It’s a Denial thing putting it out of mind and took a while to manage. I learned it on Freedom From Fear site. Nobody knows and you get better at it. Use it for any dreaded situation

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Jeppy

Jeppy that sounds good. Thank you. I'll give it a try when I go to see my GP in a couple of weeks time. It can't do any harm and I rather like the idea of a butterfly. With my imagination I will probably see it fluttering around before it settles on the receptionist's head! I certainly feel less bothered having read all the replies I have received on here. They have been very reassuring and have shown me that I am not alone, It is obviously more common than I had realised. This site really is such a great help. Take care, Knip.

Jeppy profile image
Jeppy in reply to Knip

it is Could maybe press centre palm to calm. King Charles done this for yrs to calm in his speeches! , you may notice one hand over other allowing it to be hidden, it’s reflexology stress point ( hands match feet points)

The breath in that you hold a few seconds keeps oxygen through the brain , must help slow things Good luck mine spikes a lot had a 24 hr monitor which you forget you have on mostly

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Jeppy

I'll give pressing the middle of my palm a try, Jeppy. I have tried the breathing in etc and I do that, but the relexology point is a new one to me. I am always amazed at how well reflexology works at reducing pain for some people. I'm happy to try anything. Hope you have a good day...the sun is shining down here in Hampshire even though it's colder this morning. Bodes well. Take care, Knip

Jeppy profile image
Jeppy in reply to Knip

sounds lovely. Gloomy start in Cheshire woops Derbyshire I’m at my sons in the hills

Yes reflexology & accupuncture great, works on different energy levels , unblocks blockages. The hand points are same as feet points please check the right place. Better still have a treatment. I sleep for Britain. Great respect for Eastern. Have a nice day!

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Jeppy

You too Jeppy. Take care, Knip.

Thingybob profile image

I have the same. Not just at the docs or hospital. Even doing it at home. Just putting the cuff on my own arm ....i can feel my bp rising . Let alone once the machine starts ! I have tried everything ..yoga breathin,visualisation, distraction, etc etc

I think the reason is that my mum had high bp from her 30s onwards and she always made a big deal about it. It is obviously a potentially serious thing , but she made it terrifying to me. When I was told in my mi 50s I had it I was freaked, as I had always had the bp of a child to that point. I am on two bp medications now.

All my aunts and cousins and grandparents on my mums side have high bp too.

I wish I could find a soloution to the anxiety of taking my bp. Any ideas or suggestions are really welcome .🙂

Knip profile image
Knip in reply to Thingybob

I am so sorry to hear that you have a seemingly high blood pressure. It must have been very frightening for you hearing the rest of your family talking about it in the way that they did. Thank goodness for modern medications which can usually keep it under control. The problem of it rising even more when you have it taken or take yourself doesn't seem to be easy to solve. If you read through some of the replies that I have received you will see some tips for trying to stay calm. It sounds as if you have tried some of them already. Do the medicatons you are on reduce your blood pressure to a reasonable level or does it still shoot up too high? I can't have treatment for high BP because mine is usually on the rather low side and tablets would drop it far too low. It's a catch 22. I hope you find some answers which will help you. By the way, I love your name. It reminds me of when I can't remember something and I say, 'Oh you know, the thing a me bob'. Take care, God Bless, Knip.

helenlw7 profile image

I have the same issues and my gp understands, so I take my own boat home and they accept the results. Hospitals are a different issue altogether, although I have noticed that they accept a higher reading.

Knip profile image

Yes, the white coat hypertension is listed on my record now so other GPs at my practice acknowledge that. As you say, it is the hospital who are alarmed by the high readings, understandably so when they are doing a procedure. Ah well, worrying about it will undoubtedly make it worse, and I am so grateful to everyone who has replied to my post. I have learnt a lot and feel comforted to know that I am not alone. That alone is helping. Take care, Knip.

You may also like...