Are you one of those people who seem to only have high blood pressure while the nurse is wrapping the monitor around your arm? You might have white coat hypertension.
White coat hypertension occurs when the blood pressure readings at your medical care provider’s office are higher than in other settings, such as your home. It’s called white coat hypertension because the health care professionals who measure your blood pressure often wear white coats. If you have white coat hypertension, you may be concerned about the new hypertension guidelines released November 2017.
According to the American College of Cardiology, the new guidelines lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. The new definition will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46%) having high blood pressure.
Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120 (These patients need prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.)
While 46% of the population is definitely a staggering number, it’s estimated that only 4.2 million of the estimated 31 million new patients classified with high blood pressure will actually be new candidates for drug treatment. For those diagnosed with elevated levels who are at low risk of heart disease (i.e. they not had a stroke or heart attack in recent years), lifestyle changes are encouraged.
Those suffering from white coat hypertension need not worry. The most accurate measurements come from multiple blood pressure measurements made over time. The new guidelines emphasize accurate measurements of average blood pressure. Your medical care provider will no longer diagnose you with high blood pressure just from one measurement at the clinic. If it is suspected you have high blood pressure, you may be asked to monitor your blood pressure at home and report your findings to your medical care provider before you’re put on any medications.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for Americans. The damage to your blood vessels from undetected or uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure and other serious health threats. If you suspect you may have high blood pressure, we’d be happy to discuss your concerns. Give us a call at (662) 348-3342 to schedule an appointment.