Roughly 70 million Americans have high blood pressure, a medical condition that boosts risks for heart attack and stroke.  Research shows about 20 percent of people diagnosed with high blood pressure have something called "white-coat hypertension."  This is a term used to explain a higher-than-normal blood pressure reading related to the stress some people experience from going to the doctor.  Stress has been shown to raise blood pressure temporarily, but you can learn how to lower blood pressure at the doctor's office with four handy tips.



Be aware of your anxiety.  Awareness of doctor-related anxiety is the first step toward controlling it.  Arrive to your appointment ten to fifteen minutes early so you can use techniques to calm down.  As you wait, practice deep breathing or listen to soft, relaxing music on an mp3 player.


Don’t talk.  A number of studies conducted on adults and children in different settings showed a link between talking and elevated blood pressure readings.  Some subjects already diagnosed with high blood pressure experienced increases greater than 25-40 percent within 30 seconds of someone speaking.


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Pay attention to your body position.  Research shows that the truest blood pressure readings are those taken when patients are sitting in a chair that provides back and arm support.  It is also important to place both feet flat on the ground for accurate testing.


Avoid caffeinated beverages.  Although it is unclear why, caffeine can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure.  While some researchers think caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline which contributes to a blood pressure rise, others believe caffeine may inhibit a specific hormone that keeps arteries open for proper blood flow.


Normal Blood Pressure   

To be considered a 'normal' blood pressure reading, the top number (or systolic pressure) should fall between 90 and 120 and the bottom number (or diastolic pressure) should fall between 60 and 80.  Readings that are higher than this may require careful monitoring or medication.

High blood pressure increases risks for heart attack and stroke, so regular testing is important.  To help determine if white-coat hypertension is a possibility for you, check your blood pressure with a home monitor and compare readings with those at the doctor's office.  If it is determined you have white coat hypertension, you may just need to find better ways to manage stress.  Techniques like meditation, yoga, tai chi, guided imagery, self-hypnosis and more can help curb anxiety at the doctor's office and in many other areas of life.