White coat hypertension is a situation when your blood pressure is higher in a doctor’s chamber, but is normal when measured at home. The term white coat hypertension is derived from the white coats of the health care professionals.
Causes and dangers of white coat hypertension?
It’s not strange for some people to feel a bit anxious while sitting in front of their physician. This increased anxiety can sometimes elevate their blood pressure levels temporarily. However some doctors think that white coat hypertension is not a cause of concern since it is just a temporary surge, and the blood pressure normalizes once you are out of the doctor’s room. While there are cardiologists who believe that, white coat hypertension is a warning that signals to the risk of developing certain cardiovascular conditions like stroke, heart attack and heart failure. The same can be true for those who have masked hypertension, such patients have lower blood-pressure in the doctor’s office as compared to their home readings.
How to handle white coat hypertension?
It may be harmful to prescribe medication for hypertension by recording a single blood pressure reading. Unnecessary antihypertensives can cause serious condition like hypotension – a state, when blood pressure drops below the normal value.
If you are diagnosed with white coat hypertension, the cardiologist will talk to you about getting a blood pressure monitor that can be used at home. This may help you to record the actual blood pressure levels. Assuming that, the blood pressure is much better controlled at home, when you are in a relaxed atmosphere.
The second method is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor which can track your blood pressure up to 24 hours. It can take readings during the day as well as during sleep. Both methods can help to determine if your blood pressure rises only in the physician’s office, or if it’s a persistent condition that needs treatment.
However, you may also go through periods of increased blood pressure because of a stressful situation, not taking your blood pressure medicine regularly, eating food high in table salt or consuming excess caffeine. Over a period, temporary increment in blood pressure, either at your doctor’s office or otherwise can damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of more serious conditions.
‘Stress’ is a complex subject to define. I would like to define stress as ‘an environmental challenge to which an organism reacts’. In the subject of biology, we often talk about heat stress, cold stress and chemical stressors of various kinds. I think it is a mistake when we think of stress on a personal level and ignore the sheer biology involved in stress responses.
The complexity of the neuro-psycho-endo-and immunological responses to stress makes it very challenging to give a clear response to the above-stated question. It’s like asking ‘what does long-term sun exposure does to the skin?’ – The answers would fill many encyclopedic volumes and still be incomplete. However, there are several types of heart diseases that are proven to have connections to stress.
It is well demonstrated that a combination of an activated sympathetic nervous system and consequent hormonal cascades result in ‘stunning’ of the heart muscles. Stunning is a form of acute cardiac failure. The myocardium is not damaged per se but the compromise of cardiorespiratory function can still have fatal consequences. Hence, many researchers have projected this condition as proof that it is possible to ‘die from a broken heart’ in both a literal and figurative sense simultaneously.
Every one of us has to breathe in order to live. But did you know that something as simple as breathing can change the way you experience the world around you?
I am the type of person, like most people, who can often suffer from feelings of guilt, bouts of anxiety and a wide variety of negative thoughts. These types of thoughts often enter from the back door of our minds and lead us to dark places.
For a long time, I believed that worrying about a particular matter could actually help me resolve the situation. It’s a fact—most of us become self-critical and overanalyze many situations in our daily life.
One thing that has worked wonders in getting rid of anxiety and negative thoughts is practicing the technique known as Conscious Breathing. It is called Conscious Breathing because you have to make a conscious decision to recognize negativity and counteract it with healing breaths.
How to Practice Conscious Breathing?
First of all, you should be aware of your own thoughts. We all have negative trigger thoughts. A trigger thought can lead to over thinking and worrying. You should come to recognize your specific trigger thoughts. It is tempting to analyze negative thoughts or get lost in the hurts of the past. But devoting even a few minutes to a particular thought gives it more power than other thoughts in our mind.
Here are some steps to counteract Negative Thought Patterns.
- A Negative Trigger thought comes to mind.
- Do not devote any time to it, instead focus on your breathing.
- Do not attempt to get rid of the thought but briefly observe it with a nonjudgmental state of mind.
- Practice focusing on your breathing for at least one minute or 4-5 long breaths
- Concentrate on the breath going in and out of your body.
- Thoughts can come and go, Don`t pay too much attention to them—keep focusing on your breathing.
- Do not use your mouth for breathing but breathe through your nose. Feel the air moving into your body through your nostrils, traveling through your airways and ending up in your abdomen.
- Follow the same process when the air is moving out of your body.
- Engage your diaphragm in the process of breathing. Your abdomen should rise with inhalation and drop with exhalation.
According to a recent study, improved breathing habits can have a positive impact on every aspect of life. Conscious breathing practitioners have reported a spike in their energy levels, reduced stress and better sleep even after practicing just a few minutes a day.
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