Study: High blood pressure at the doctor could up heart disease risk

Study: High blood pressure at the doctor could up heart disease risk

A new study finds that people who have high blood pressure in a doctor's office, but maybe not at home have a high risk from dying of heart disease-related illnesses.

Does your blood pressure read normal at home but skyrocket once you're in the doctor's office? The condition is called white coat hypertension, and it could up your heart disease risk, according to a new report.

Researchers from Penn Medicine, an academic medical center in Philadelphia, recently conducted a study to determine the association between white coat hypertension and future health problems.

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White coat hypertension "was originally attributed to the anxiety patients might experience during medical appointments," the team said in a statement. "However, over the years, research has suggested the elevated readings might be a sign of underlying risk for future health problems."

For their assessment, they reviewed 27 studies that analyzed 60,000 patients. They identified adults with untreated white coat hypertension and found they had a 36 percent increased risk of heart disease. They also discovered they had a 33 percent increased risk of death from any cause as well as a 109 percent risk of death from heart disease.

Their results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

"Our findings underscore the importance of identifying people with this condition," lead author Jordana Cohen said in the statement. "Our findings support the pressing need for increased out-of-office blood pressure monitoring nationwide, as it's critical in the diagnosis and management of hypertension."

While the authors did not reveal why there is a correlation between white coat hypertension and future health issues, they offered some suggestions to combat it.

The team said those with the condition should practice a healthy lifestyle, which should include no smoking, reduction in alcohol intake, and a good diet and exercise regimen.

They also cautioned healthcare providers against over-treating individuals with this condition, especially if they are already on high blood pressure medication.

“This could lead to dangerously low blood pressures outside of the office and unnecessary side effects from medication,” Cohen explained.

The scientists now hope to further their investigations to find ways to prevent heart disease risk as a result of white coat hypertension.