It is interesting to look back over the past few months and assess the type of work I have been doing. (That must be the analyst in me!) Whilst the most common problems I have dealt with remain constant i.e. anxiety, stress, depression, sleep deprivation and phobias, there has been a significant rise in people consulting with White Coat Hypertension, or using its more common name of White Coat Syndrome.
This is a condition in which the person exhibits elevated blood pressure when in a clinical situation only, but in an every day environment, the blood pressure is normal. It can be a difficult condition to diagnose as the mere fact of talking to a nurse or doctor about blood pressure will automatically raise it. The usual method for measuring blood pressure is by using a piece of equipment called a sphygmomanometer. A survey showed that 96% of primary care physicians habitually use a cuff size too small, which in turn makes the patient anxious, thus causing a rise in blood pressure. To help prevent this anxiety an automated machine can take the readings over a period of some hours which will often result in a more accurate reading.
What is interesting however, is that patients suffering with white coat syndrome do not show any signs of the effects of high blood pressure such as tachycardia or organ damage. This is supported by studies that repeatedly indicate that 15-30% of those thought to have mild hypertension as a result of clinic readings display normal blood pressure and no unusual response to pressure stimulus, neither do they show any specific characteristics such as age that may by indicative of a higher susceptibility to white coat hypertension.
How I treat the condition will somewhat depend on the individual person. If there is little time before a reading is to be taken, then I will teach the person relaxation techniques and put in place some triggers for the person to use when in the clinic situation. This method is a form of suggestion therapy which will enable them to calm themselves for the duration of the reading.
If, however, I am given more time to work with the person I will embark on a few sessions of analytical therapy. This process will enable us to get to the bottom of the anxiety and resolve it permanently. I am reminded of a lady who consulted me recently who was so anxious she could not even use the automatic machine herself at home. Just looking at the machine or hearing the ripping noise of the velcro on the cuff would reduce her to tears. After just a couple of sessions the intensity was beginning to diminish and after completion of therapy she attended the hospital for a blood pressure test with no problems whatsoever.
To find out more about white coat syndrome follow this link to bloodpressureuk.
To find out more about hypnotherapy and how to book an appointment, follow this link