How to diagnose if you have white coat syndrome
A “normal” blood pressure is widely subjective and varies from individual to individual. There are also a wide range of other factors that may affect proper diagnosis of high blood pressure patients from those that have white coat syndrome. Usual cases of white coat syndrome are when a person exhibits high blood pressure at home or outside of a clinical or medical setting but have a high reading when they get to a hospital or clinic. However, there are also cases when an individual doing a high blood pressure at home gets a high reading but will get a low reading when they get to a clinic. This poses a dilemma for many doctors.
Other factors such as anxiety of the patient, taking in of stimulating drinks or substances by the patient, as well as seemingly minute details such as talking during the reading may interfere with proper diagnosis of white coat hypertension. Inside the clinic, a doctor sometimes will take a high blood pressure of the patient upon arrival then ask them to relax in a quiet place in the medical facility then take another reading 15 to 20 minutes later after the patient has calmed down or is less anxious. Because of this, a reference measurement system is necessary wherein a doctor can look at previous readings outside of a clinical setting and compare it to a reading done in the hospital or clinic.
The most common measuring device is a non-invasive instrument called the sphygmomanometer.
Another widely used way of determining white coat hypertension is by taking the readings yourself at home. Home blood pressure monitoring devices are being increasingly used because of its high accuracy rate although it may not be entirely accurate all the time. It is also more convenient and less expensive compared to a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. There are a number of good home monitoring devices out in the market that you could buy. Some doctors and clinics also allow you to borrow the device for a certain period of time.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) is a test to monitor blood pressure within a twenty-four-hour period. A small portable monitor takes the readings regularly and automatically. Your doctor can then analyze the readings and determine an average daytime blood pressure level. Many studies support the idea that ABPM is a better method in determining the white coat effect than clinical measurements.
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