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Study: The ‘White Coat Effect’ Might Be Real

(Photo illustration.  Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo illustration. Credit: Thinkstock)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Feeling anxious about that upcoming doctor’s visit? You might want to make sure the nurse — not your physician — takes your blood pressure.

According to new research from the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain, the “white coat effect,” or the phenomenon of doctors recording higher blood pressure in patients, is real.

Researchers had both a doctor and a nurse measure the blood pressure of more than 1,000 patients in a single visit to the examining room. They found that blood pressure readings were significantly higher when the doctor was conducting the test.

Dr. Christopher Clark, of the University of Exeter, told the British Journal of General Practice that, while “doctors should continue to measure blood pressure as part of the assessment of an ill patient or a routine check-up,” they shouldn’t be conducting the test when the reading is crucial for diagnosis or outcome.

“Our results were pooled from different settings across ten countries, so we can be confident that they can be generalised to any healthcare environment where blood pressure is being measured. These results were all from research trials – our next task will be to examine data from GP surgeries,” Dr. Clark explained.

To read more on the study, click here.

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