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Masked Hypertension: Beware of Hidden High Blood Pressure

By    |   Monday, 15 Dec 2014 07:00 PM

Masked hypertension refers to blood pressure readings that are normal in the doctor's office but are high when measured at home. The reason for this discrepancy is often ascribed to a lower anxiety level when in the presence of a physician and the benefits of time away from potential home and work stress factors.

Conversely, some patients have a higher level of anxiety while at the doctor's office which can lead to higher blood pressure measurements than those taken at home. The New York Times has described this phenomenon as, "white coat hypertension" and reports that a reading in the doctor's office greater than 140/90 is considered "Stage 1 hypertension." However, an in-home reading of 135/80 is "considered the upper limit of healthy blood pressure."

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According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, masked hypertension is "much less well-known" than white coat hypertension but carries "a distinctly more serious prognosis." The condition may be present in as much as "one-third of the hypertensive population" and a normal blood pressure reading at the doctor's office may not necessarily mean that the patient is not at risk for hypertension.

General factors that may increase the risk of hypertension include tobacco use, alcohol and caffeine consumption, obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity. Masked hypertension seems to occur more often in younger patients "with a busy and often stressful lifestyle" reports the European Society of Cardiology. ESC further states that some studies point toward a particular psychological profile that contributes to the development of masked hypertension.

"Masked hypertension is known to be a precursor of sustained hypertension," says Dr. Praveen Veerabhadrappa from Philadelphia's Temple University. He also identifies a subset of the population that is at additional significant risk for hidden high blood pressure. According to Dr. Veerabhadrappa, "the prevalence of masked hypertension is known to be as high as 70 percent in African-Americans, a rate that is significantly higher than the approximate 10 percent reported in the general population.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center recommends that patients with white coat hypertension or masked hypertension receive additional "monitoring and testing to ensure they receive the most accurate diagnosis." This type of blood pressure monitoring should be done at home and over time to provide a more "complete picture of the patient’s condition, to ensure appropriate treatment and control of elevated blood pressure."

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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Masked hypertension refers to blood pressure readings that are normal in the doctor's office but are high when measured at home. The reason for this discrepancy is often ascribed to a lower anxiety level when in the presence of a physician and the benefits of time away from stress factors.
masked, hypertension, hidden, high, blood, pressure
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2014-00-15
Monday, 15 Dec 2014 07:00 PM
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