You may suffer high blood pressure even if it’s not detected during doctor visit

February 9, 2017

shutterstock_158366573“White Coat hypertension” happens when anxious patients visit the doctor and their blood pressure spikes. But the opposite also can happen: People have normal blood pressure readings at the doctor’s office but their blood pressure spikes at other times.

A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation identifies a new syndrome called “masked hypertension.” Researchers from Stony Brook and Columbia universities studied data from 888 middle-aged patients who wore blood pressure cuffs attached to portable devices. Readings were taken as the patients went about their usual daily activities.

The study found:

  • 7 percent of participants with normal blood pressure at the doctor’s office had hypertension at other times.
  • Masked hypertension was more common in men than women.
  • Younger, normal-weight participants were more likely than older, overweight patients to have higher readings.

Researchers estimate that 1 in 8 people – or 17.1 million Americans older than 21—have masked hypertension, raising their risk for heart disease, organ damage and early death.

“We are not adequately treating or educating these patients to the risks of hypertension,” Dr. Rajiv Jauhar, chief of cardiology at North Shore University in Manhasset, N.Y. told HealthDay. “They are not being treated with the right drugs or taught about the importance of a low-salt diet.”

Want to learn more about hypertension? Johns Hopkins Medicine has posted information about hypertension prevention and treatment. Find other resources about high-quality, affordable health care on the Voices Resources page.