Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bill and his 24 hour blood pressure monitor...

Back in 2007, I had to get a physical because we were moving to Germany.  Because I get really stressed out in military medical facilities, my blood pressure was reading high when I had my appointments.  However, when I took my blood pressure at home, it was uniformly normal or even low.

The physician's assistant who was completing my physical was sure I had high blood pressure.  I assured her I didn't.  I expect I will have it at some point.  My mom has it and her mother had it.  It stands to reason that I will get it at some point too.  But I was sure I didn't have it in 2007.  She made me come in five times over the following week.  Three times, my blood pressure was high.  Still, when I took my blood pressure at home or at the drug store, it was always normal.

I told the PA this and she said we could do a 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure test to confirm whether or not I had what is known as "white coat hypertension".  I completed the test, which involved my wearing a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours.  Every twenty minutes, the monitor would take my blood pressure and record the results.

I noticed that as soon as I walked out of the military hospital, my blood pressure dropped to normal.  The next day, when I came back with a bruised arm, I felt pretty certain that I was going to be diagnosed with white coat hypertension.  And I was.  The PA agreed that my blood pressure only spiked in the hospital and the test proved it.

Bill has high blood pressure.  He takes his medication faithfully.  However, when he visits doctors, he gets stressed out, which causes his pressure to spike.  The doctors and nurses always scold him for not taking his meds.  Whenever he's suggested he might have white coat hypertension, the doctors and nurses balked.  They said it was rare.  I don't see why the doctors and nurses would think white coat hypertension is a rare phenomenon.  Going to the doctor is stressful, especially when you get scolded about your blood pressure or weight all the time.  We all know that blood pressure is affected by stress.

The nephrologist Bill saw the other day is apparently more forward thinking than other medical professionals have been.  She said that in order to get the doctors and nurses off his back, Bill would have to prove that his pressure was normal outside of the medical facility.  So she arranged for him to have the ambulatory monitor.  He just got it put on a couple of hours ago.  I told him it would bruise the hell out of his arm.

He said that already, his numbers are going down.  Something tells me he's going to have the same diagnosis I have.  Hopefully, that will put an end to the scolding.  I hate visiting doctors for that reason alone.  


  1. My dad said white coat hypertension is not rare.

    1. I truly don't understand why so many of Bill's doctors have said it is. I mean, it makes perfect sense. I think they just like to scold people.


Comments on older posts will be moderated until further notice.