Witnessing the ‘white coat effect'

26 March 2014        

Category: BHF Comment

Nurse applying blood pressure strap

Blood pressure readings are higher when taken by doctors than by nurses, an analysis of data has revealed.

Over 1,000 people had their blood pressure measured by both doctors and nurses at the same visit. Blood pressure levels were significantly higher with a doctor than when the same patients were tested by nurses.

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse, Maureen Talbot, said: “The ‘white coat effect’ is a well-recognised phenomenon – if we feel anxious during blood pressure measurement this can bump up our results.

“Studies like this emphasise the importance of following NICE guidelines when diagnosing and treating high blood pressure. Measuring blood pressure regularly over 24 hours gives a far more accurate reading and reduces the risk of unnecessary treatment.

“We can all help to control our blood pressure by cutting back on salt, keeping our weight down and getting plenty of exercise. If you are worried about your blood pressure levels, have a chat with your GP.”