Many people are taking antihypertensive drugs for high blood pressure when they shouldn't be-and it's all because of white-coat hypertension. People who have their blood pressure taken by a doctor will almost invariably record a far higher reading than when a nurse takes it.
The difference is significant, and is around 7/4mmHg higher when a doctor takes the reading-enough to tip people into having antihypertensive drugs they don't actually need.
To measure the impact of white-coat hypertension, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School had 1,109 people have their blood pressure measured by a nurse and a doctor. The readings were made in many different clinics across 10 countries, and so the researchers were sure the difference is down to who takes the reading.
Patients who are asked to monitor their own blood pressure at home can also record very high readings because of anxiety and nerves.
The best solution is to have someone other than a doctor take the reading, say the researchers.
(Source: British Journal of General Practice, 2014; in press)