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Conquering fear of blood pressure machines?

I know I am not the only one who absolutely freaks out when having my blood pressure taken.  Every time I go to the Dr's office, they always comment on how high my pulse and blood pressure are (last week when I went it was 127/92 and pulse of 133!)  Ha...and those numbers arent even unusual for me!  I know the pulse is high, but I don't worry about it as much just because I take it frequently at home now, and know that it is usually in the 80's when I'm at home.  But the blood pressure...ugh!  I am just convinced that I am going to have a really high reading sometime and that I'm going to just kill over.  And the docs and nurses make it worse by always saying "well, your numbers are a little too high for your age, even though you are nervous" (I just turned 30).  

So...has anyone successfully conquered their fear of having their blood pressure taken?  How did you do it?  I really want to get over this. I mean, I feel like i try to do everything right...I eat fairly well, I'm definitely not overweight, dont smoke or drink, somewhat active...the only thing I have trouble with is my anxiety.  Ugh...this is frustrating!
164 Responses
Avatar universal
I have a few dr. appts. coming up, one is with my dentist and the other is my oncologist.  I cannot even bear to think about them taking my blood pressure readings!  My dentist almost refused to do root canal surgery b/c my reading were so high, even after I told him I suffered from white coat syndrome and panic attacks!

I don't know how to get desensitized by this phobia.
Avatar universal
I can SO relate to ALL of you!  Can't believe how many of us are out there! I am 52, female, in pretty good shape for my age, but have been scared to death of the BP machine for the past 10 or so years.  It started in the doctor's office.  Now I can't even take it at home without my pulse racing and my BP shooting up way above normal (like 170).  In searching on the Internet about a year ago for help with my problem, I stumbled across a site that was selling CDs where you listened to music and breathed along with it.  It's called Breatheasy.  I decided to purchase the CDs and sat and did one of the breathing exercises for 5 minutes and then took my BP.  It was like 112/70.  I couldn't believe it!  Every time I use this system my BP is normal.  So what I now do is use this to take my BP before a doctor's appt, and then bring my #s to my doctor.  He says as long as I keep bringing him normal #s like this, he is happy (and so am I).  Now I am working on learning the breathing so well that I can do it in the doctor's office without listening to the CD.  But one step at a time.  It seems that when we are anxious we hold our breath or hyperventilate without even realizing it - which spikes our BP.  If you want to check it out here is the link: www.control-your-blood-pressure.com  I hope it helps all of you like it did me!  (I have no affiliation with this product other than a happy customer!)
Avatar universal
Hi again all,

Next week, have cancer screening tests (am 10 yr. survivor) and a followup up with the doctor the following week.  Already I am dreading it,  because of the BP reading, but I also gained weight over the holidays that I haven't been able to lose yet.  I'm afraid of the scale as well, lol.

Relaxation techniques do not work for me....tried the breathing exercises that a doctor suggested....everything flies out the door when I walk into the doctor's office or clinic.

Still not able to take my BP with my home monitor.  I do take Benicar and hope for the best.  Been going through this fear for several years now and don't know how to conquer it!
Avatar universal
I'm pleased I have found this thread because I've had a similiar experience.

I am a 43 y/o male and about 5 years ago I was commuting / working very long hours and running up stairs for a train carrying a large heavy briefcase and I felt a twinge in my chest (which I now know was just a muscle pain). I thought I'll go to the doctors just in case and get checked out. I was so nervous as I thought there might be something wrong, my heartrate jumped and my BP showed 160/x. I bought a home monitor and found that every time I used it my heartrate would jump from resting 55-60 right up to 110-120. Sure enough my BP was high. High on the machine at home, higher in the doctors surgery.

I worked with the doctor to get checked over - blood checks, urine, chest x-ray, ECG etc etc. He walked me through all of the results and said I was fine. He prescribed atenolol and said to take it if my BP was high, but that I could choose not to if I resolved the fear / anxiety issue. He basically said that he could not get an accurate reading and because the readings he did have were high, he had to prescribe.

I became a little obsessed with taking my BP, taking it 20 or more times a day. Every time I did it I would have an adrenaline rush and my BP would be high - I was wired on adrenaline from the fear of my own blood pressure machine, which will obviously increase your blood pressure over time!! So I decided to take my BP far less regularly, once every few weeks. I lost a little weight, exercised even more often. Now 5 years later, I take my BP every couple of months. I take it 3 times with 5 minute intervals. It normally looks like this 1st time 145/85 HR 115, 2nd time 135/80 HR 75, 3rd time 130/75 HR 60 and if I take it again it will keep going down a little. Last time I took it I was 122/73 HR 58.

I've kept a log over the years and my average even with all of the highs is 136/84 HR 82. If I take the adrenaline caused spikes out, then I am in the mid 120s and 70s. I do take a quarter dose of 12.5mg of Atenolol a day (although my wife says I don't need to) and even with this, my heart rate will spike at 115-120 the first time I take my BP.

What I have learnt is that if you have an inquisitive / restless mind (like I do) you can imagine all sorts of negative things. However the data I have collected indicates that I have a phobia (which is what the fear of having your BP taken, or potentially the result, actually is). If you have a phobia of having your BP taken then it is likely your BP wil be high when you are exposed to the subject causing your phobia. Imagine taking someone who had a spider phobia BP just after you had shoved a tarantula in their face!!

The problem I see here is that when you go to the doctors or for a medical procedure they don't always understand. I've had nothing wrong with me and have not been to the Doctors at all in the last 5 years (except to register as I have moved country - and they did not take my BP!). I need to deal with that one at some point :-) I am hoping I wil have an understanding doctor, and I will show them my spreadsheet!
Avatar universal
hi ,i could be telling this story.about fifteen years ago.dave
Avatar universal
Well, went for my appt. thank God all my tests were negative, but my BP was sky high, PA didn't seem concerned at all, most previous cancer patients they see always read high when they are nervous about the appt.  She did say if it was that high ALL the time, I definitely would be having symptoms.  I do high cardio and strength training 3-4 x a week and have never felt out of breath, light headed or dizzy.  I work with a trainer and he has even upped some of my routines to heavier weights!

She told me to try to take it at home under normal circumstances, but it doesn't matter.  Just the fact that I am going to take it makes my body go into full panic mode.  Not even breathing exercises or taking Xanax beforehand has helped.  My heart doesn't race, however, it's usually between 70-80 even with the high BP readings!

I'll just continue to take my BP meds and maybe one of these days I'll find the courage to take it at home.
Avatar universal
I'm going through this too!  I have been doing this for approximately 5 years.  It all started in a doctor's office when I had PTSD and was in mid-panic attack and the PA took my bp only to find it was high!LOL  SURPRISE!!!  She freaked out and it went from there!  So....since then I have had issues with even wanting to make a doctor's appt., but now I have to go my gyno and I am bit apprehensive.  I have resolved myself that I am just going to state it straight up that I have whitecoat syndrome with a bp phobia.  My GP knows that and he just said to monitor it at home and at home it is great!!!
Trying not to panic....LOL
Avatar universal
I'm really glad I found this post. My girlfriend thinks I am ABSOLUTELY ridiculous for having this fear. I to avoid the dentist and not too long ago I walked out of the optometrist because they said they needed to take my blood pressure. I'm 29, not overweight, non-smoker, occasional drinker, and fairly active. My problem is I had an extremely bad panic attack one time and my mom took my BP and it was through the roof because I was literally having the worst panic attack of my life. Ever since I am terrified of BP machines. I know I need to conquer my fear because I can't live my life afraid of a machine. It's a very stressful situation feeling so helpless to something so silly.
Avatar universal
So good to hear it's not just me! I am 28 and when i was 20 I had my BP done and it was 160/ ? and every time they went to do it i could feel my heart beat rapidly speed up EVERY TIME. So I got sent to my GP to have regular BP checks and the lowest they got was 130 but said that was still high.
Recently I had another check and it was 160 then 150. I have just ordered a BP machine to take it at home myself as I do think it is just White Coat anxiety and would like to see what it is when i do it myself.

The worst thing is for the past week since that BP check I have had bad anxiety. My heart feels like it is aching from the adrenaline and feel like every 5 seconds there is a surge of adrenaline  which cant be good for me???? I just wish it would go away but i dont know  how unless i go to the  doc and get sedatives or something for anxiety?! argh hate this.
Avatar universal
Try Magnesium glycinate for anxiety, also for  sound sleep and relaxed heart . If you take it as the bottle says, it will help control fear of the unknown, ie phobias. It will help hundreds of other health issue, including  what you have posted here, and your fear of BP check. Take Mg half hour before you go for BP check, it will get you all relaxed, no worries. .

Search more on Magnesium. It is a mineral we all need but Its no longer in our food as the food supply has changed.

My family is on Mg, more so than calcium. As we know, Calcium is present in most foods that we eat, but Mg is not thats why supplementation is almost always necessary.
Mg is the relaxation mineral. Calcium is the contraction mineral. This is how it works for the heart.
Gwyneth Paltrow uses it for sleep as she talked about her health habits  on Dr. Oz..
Its the healthy choice for relieving anxiety, your body needs it and it will help for over all health; no sedatives please.
No meds for anxiety please, just take your minerals.. :)
Take care, I know this will help I know as I use it everyday.

Avatar universal
I have the exact same thing, I hate it, how it squeezes and makes my hand tingly
The worst part is that it never seems to be able to get a reading first time. They always end up doing it 2 or 3 times
Avatar universal
I realize that this article was question was submitted several years ago, and that I'm about to say the same thing as many of the others who've commented already have, but I am so relieved to find out that I am not the only one with this problem.  The very first time it happened I was probably 20 years old.  I had never had a bad experience at the doctor's prior and I really liked my doctor.  For some reason I just got very panicked while waiting for my appointment.  When the time came for the nurse to check my blood pressure is was ridiculously high - like 190/130 or something.  She immediately left to get the doctor.  I could hear the two of them talking outside the door, speculating as to what could cause such a high reading.  Hearing them talk about me, and speculate that I was on drugs or having an adverse medication reaction or something, only made me more nervous.   By the time the doctor came in and took another reading my top number was over 200.  The doctor more or less interrogated me, which made me feel guilty and certainly didn't help anything, despite the fact that I had nothing to feel guilty about.  She then told me there was no way she could let me leave because she was afraid I would have a stroke in the parking lot.  Somehow, I finally got my BP down to a more normal level.  The entire time I worried that I was having a heart attack and dying - my first ever panic attack.  Now I have severe anxiety just about every time I see a blood pressure cuff.  My dentist surprised me with a BP reading a couple weeks ago (something new they're doing) and my BP was 165/97.  Luckily the dental assistant thought she'd done something wrong and just gave up.  I knew it was really that high, though, because I could feel my BP go through the roof the second I realized what was happening.  A few years ago I registered to be a bone marrow donor and now I'm worried that if the time came for me to donate, they wouldn't even let me because my BP would be too high!  I hope that someday this fear subsides but as of right now it makes me feel like I would rather die than go to the doctor for something.  It does make me feel a lot better, however, that so many others experience this problem!  Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread!
Avatar universal
Omg i thought i was the only one i dont even know how to brave right when they start to take my pressure smh every time i go to the hospital my heart rate goes up i can go in and it's normal but after being there for a while they come and retake it and say oh it's a little high i start to panic cause i know what's next they want to keep me  to check what's the problem i been thru this so many times now i go try to take deep breath blow out slowly then let hem check me if tge come back with ih i have to recheck it i be like nope i know i only get like this when i come here get my prescription and off i go:) but hate going to hospital had a very bad experience once in the hospit......
Avatar universal
I'm 35 and have struggled with high blood pressure since I was 16.  I'm in good shape (thin, jog 3-4 times/week), never smoked, eat healthy, rarely drink, and don't feel anvious most of the time.  However, I still find that when I take my BP readings at home the first few readings are high and gradually decrease over 10-20 mins.  Example: 145/90, 140/85, 135/82, 130/80, level off at 120's/80's.  Again, I feel calm and my pulse rate is normal (45-60 or so).

Is it possible that I'm subconsicously anxious and this is causing my early readings to go up?  I do tend to suffer from occasional bouts of health anxiety and often worry about my blood pressure.

Does anyone else experience this?
Avatar universal
The same thing happened to me at 19 or 20 years old.  I was in college and had a terrible respiratory and sinus infection.  I was taking sudafed like candy( I didn't know any better that it can raise blood pressure).  I went to the student health facility and a nurse took my vitals before seeing the doctor.  She freaked out because my BP was high.  It was 135/something.  She quickly went and got the doctor.  The doctor tried to reassure me that it was the sudafed that was causing a higher BP than normal for my age because then I was freaking out.  Well, that's where it all started.  I am terrified of going to the doctor now because my BP is ALWAYS high now when I go.  I know it's psychological , but the my mind is stronger than I am when it comes to this.  I have a wrist cuff that I use at home, but I still feel anxiety when using that.  It usually takes me 5 readings to get it in a normal range.  I'm now 38 and I can't believe how this one experience has stuck with me and caused so much anxiety.  Wishing you (us) the best in overcoming this!  Take care!  
Avatar universal
I'm very thankful to everyone for posting. I too have anxiety when facing my blood pressure check at the doctors. Sometimes I rip the cuff right off! I'm sure the nurses think I'm completely crazy but the thought of my circulation being cut off terrifies me. The feeling of my heart in my arm then sends me into frenzy hence the high BP reading. I'm putting off pregnancy because of this fear! I'm 25. I want help.
Avatar universal
I'm so glad I found this thread.
Here's my story/worry,
I went to the Dr's and saw the practice nurse, I only went with a simple eye Stye.
She saw to this and then said it's been a long time since we checked your BP and I immediately said well its going to be high. I could feel myself getting all worked up almost to the point of trembling/nervous.
She took it and sure as eggs are eggs it was high, 160 over god knows what ( I didn't even see ), of course the nurse said yes your right it is high.
I then told her I had been in hospital some months previously with Kidney stones and fever etc and that in hospital my BP and heart rate was high, although it did come down somewhat in hospital and they never addressed it, they did however do 2 ECG's there though but didn't say anything was wrong.
Back to the Dr's/nurses office, she said she wants me back in a week to do bloods for testing for everything and  24 Hr BP monitor and urine sample. Well, for the next 7 days I am worrying all the time about the 24hr BP thing - "it will be high all the time, I do a strenuous job so it will always be high " I'm thinking to myself all the time.

So the next feel I go to the nurse, she takes my blood and of course the dreaded BP, to which she said the BP had come down from last week, still high but not as bad. When I asked about the 24 BP monitor she said"oh were not doing that today ", I explained that I didn't think it would work anyway and she is now happy for me to do home readings on my machine.
She then took my pulse which was also high at 140, but she could see I was very anxois, she then did an ECG, took it to a DR in next room to look at and the result was OK but fast. My blood results came back a few days ago and all is good except for trace blood in urine sample ( could be to do with my kidney stones ) and to bring in another sample in 2 weeks. I have bought my own blood dipstick test kit yesterday and it read neutral !.
Over the past week or so my home BP reading have been between as low as 120/77 and as high as 141/94 with my pulse being between 85 and 105.
Although my 1st BP reading at home is usually high, it takes a few repeated rested readings to get it lower.

I am at my wits end with worry here, what do you think they will do when I give them my BP readings ?.
I don't mind just taking meds from the GP but hate the thought of having to go to hospital for tests etc.
Avatar universal
I so relate to this. I have a fear of almost all things medical, but I keep trying to explain to my friends that the numbers won't be better at home because it's the machine itself, the test, that stresses (grosses) me out. I can't stand the tightening, feeling the pulse, etc. If I pass a machine in the drugstore, I get nervous. I did buy one, and I finally had to put it away in a drawer because I'd take it, and, of course it was high, and I became consumed with it. I'm sure I'll end up on BP medicine, but I really don't think I need it. My last doc was sure it was White Coat, but my new doctor isn't buying it. It's frustrating than an important test will not be accurate for me.
Avatar universal
I so relate to this. I have a fear of almost all things medical, but I keep trying to explain to my friends that the numbers won't be better at home because it's the machine itself, the test, that stresses (grosses) me out. I can't stand the tightening, feeling the pulse, etc. If I pass a machine in the drugstore, I get nervous. I did buy one, and I finally had to put it away in a drawer because I'd take it, and, of course it was high, and I became consumed with it. I'm sure I'll end up on BP medicine, but I really don't think I need it. My last doc was sure it was White Coat, but my new doctor isn't buying it. It's frustrating than an important test will not be accurate for me.
Avatar universal
I am going through this problem now at the age of 68.  I also am a Christian and feel that God will eventually solve my problem.
Avatar universal
I don't know if you still check your post, but I am going through the same problem. And I am also going to take a CNA class and I have been thinking about the BP situation.....Fist I thought was silly but I have learned that is an irrational fear. It happens to many people but they  just do not say it because it is embarrassing. Have you tried Reiki? it did help me through my 2 pregnancies , however I still have the fear but it is much better that it was before and I can definitely tell that.
Avatar universal
I know how you feel. Same here it gets so overwhelming ....I tried few things to overcome this fear  but the it is still here....however, while pregnant I've been able to handle it very well which I thought it would never happen....I'm still trying to figure out how to get over this fear.
Avatar universal
I have the same issue. I m pregnant with  my second child and I thought the same before, I did not want to have kids just because of this fear and have to go to the doctor that often....but you know what? somehow I was able to make it and it was not as bad as I thought! I got help from a Reiki practitioner through both pregnancies and everything went well. I can not lie to you but I still have that fear sometimes it is better and others gets worse ...but if I did it you can do it!!
Avatar universal
When my blood pressure shot, the only thing that calmed it down was BreatheEasy. I'd listen to the lovely music - Indian & western classical and breathe in and out as the wave-like sounds of the music dictated. Trust me, my BP came under control and life since then has been beautiful. I also listen to the music while doing my Physical Therapy exercises … it is like doing yoga including the way I breathe. I strongly suggest to anyone who has lost hope of getting over the 'white coat' syndrome that we call when you go to the doctor and your BP soars, the best antidote for the white coat fear is
to practice breathing while listening to the music and monitoring one's own BP on a home machine. My doctor accepted my 2-week BP readings that showed normal range in my BP taken twice daily. I found out about this wonderful program from Debbie on this website, she suggested BreatheEasy, vouching that it had helped her. I ordered online and voila from that day I am a different person free from fear
Avatar universal
I am so happy for you!  Thank you for letting me know that my recommendation helped you!  
Avatar universal
Hi there, everyone...I found this site about a week ago. I've been struggling with this problem for the last month...ever since I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I had gone to the doctor...first time in years...and was nervous (because doctors make me nervous), my heart was pounding and they took my bp. It was 190/104 and pulse was 120! The nurse said I've got to go tell the doctor and ran out of the room! She returned immediately with a pink pill (clonidine) which I took. Meanwhile, the doctor came in and said I need to find out why your blood pressure is so high. My heart was still pounding and I was very scared. She sent me next door to have an EKG done. My heart was racing but the EKG was normal. I have suffered from anxiety off and on for years...I sometimes have panic attacks, which are severe. Now I'm on blood pressure meds and am supposed to be monitoring my readings everyday before my next doctor appointment. Alas, I have developed an intense fear of checking my blood pressure. I have managed to take a few readings...they were under 140/90...but one reading was 162/95 and it scared the crap out of me and ever since I cant bring myself to check it. Im also terrified of my up and coming doc apt. because I know they're going to check my blood pressure. I'm taking clonidine .1mg twice every 12 hours. This has caused me depression and anxiety for the past few weeks and its affecting my life! I don't know what I'm going to do. Thanks for listening.
Avatar universal
Hi when I woke this morning  my pulse was 61 lunch time when I took my pb reading my pulse rate 142 and of cause it was high, doctors did this to me fear and anxiety of the taking my bp . 30 years ago,
Avatar universal
I am so glad i have found this site,everything i have read on here i can relate to,my bp problem started when i had my first daughter,every time  i went for my antenatel check my bloodpressure would be slightly raised,but the way the doctors and nurses spoke to me made me feel like it was something really serious this in turn made me really really anxious everytime i went for a check up and with time my bloodpressure would go from being slightly raised to very high,,viscious circle.After my daughter was born i had to have mt bloodpressure checked regularly and of course because the seed had been planted it was always high.eighteen months later i got pregnant again i was really happy to be having another baby but then the fear kicked in about the antenatel checks and the bloodpressure going up,i tries on numerous occassions to exsplan it was because i was so anxious but it didn't make any difference still had the omg comments from the medical proffession.After i had my 2nd daughter i was  left alone for a while,i then started having panick attacks and general anxiety disorder and was quite poorely with it,inthe back of my mind during all this what really sticks in my mmiind is bloodpressure checks i don't know if this caused my anxiety and panic but i'm sure it didn't help,i went for a routine doctors appointment oneday ans shhe said oh i will take your bp its not been taken for a while,i felt really really sick when she mmentioned aking my bp i told her oit would be really high because i always got really really anxious visting doctors annd having bloodpressure taken and that it would be really high cos iit always had been inthe past,she had a look into my medical records and said no your bllodpressure was ok really,but the day she took it cos of all the severe anxiety i felt it was sky high.I then had to book an appointment with the nurse for a repeat test,has you can imagine when it was  checked cos of my bp phobia it was  sky high,i now have a really good nurse and we had a good chat and i exsplaine my bp fears with her and she under stood,she advised me to get a bhome bloodpressure monitor and record my readings at home,then to take my readings to her when i had taken then at home and we would take it from there,the outcome was when i took my readings at home they were wiithin the normal range,she checked my machine was  giving accurate readinds by checking it with hers it was,she exsplained about white coat syndrome annd said thats what i have and its a recogniised condition i goo and see her every 6 mnths with my home readings and my machine so she can check its accurate,upto now it has been,she said my readings at home are normal so not to worry i go twice a year to see her annd evenn weeks  before my appointments due i get really worked up,i really wiish i could control this fear but as of yet i can't,i think its the bp phobia thats caused the anxiety and fear
Avatar universal
Hi, I only found this site a couple of days ago. It has been such a relief to see that so many people have this phobia about having their bp taken, and even when doing it theirselves at home. I am exactly the same.  I had a very traumatic experience 3 days ago at my doctors . Three days before this my bp had been 107 /71. I went for a flu jab and the nurse said she would take my blood pressure.  She said you can refuse if you like. Even though I know its high when I have it done at the doctors, I stupidly agreed to have it done. Oh my god !  Did I regret it. It shot up to 220 over 115, she kept doing it over and but it either went up higher or down a point or two. They wouldnt let me leave. They took me into another room and had the receptionist sit with me as they thought this would calm me down. It had  no effect whatsoever as I knew it wouldn't. After about an hour I had to go in and see the doctor. She immediately wrote me a prescription  for bp meds. Wants me to go back on anti depressants,  ( I have been on them within the last year)  but I dont feel depressed anymore. She also wants me to see a councilor. Anyway, I really didnt want to go on bp meds, especially the one she was giving me. I couldnt find anyone who said anything good about it. I decided to take my mukta vati  tablets that I took last year when my bp went up due to stress. I took 2 when i got home from the doctors, about 6pm. Then 2 more at 10pm. Took 2 at 6am the next morning. I have my own bp monitor and took my bp about 9 am.  Iwas getting average readings of 158/83 so my bp had come down a lot since the docs the evening before.  I took 2 more lots of 2 tablets that day.. To day I took 2 tabs about 7am. Took bp about 10 am and  it was now averaging 145/77. Took another 2 tablets at 12 midday. By 3pm my bp was averaging 132/73  and even had some in the 120's over 68. It is such a relief. I will keep taking them now and monitor every day for a while. They definately always work. I buy the Divya Mukta Varti, you can buy it on Amazon or just google it. Some of you may have heard of it already but more people with this awful problem need to know about it. It really helps with the phobia, because even though you feel stressed when taking your bp, it gradually lowers it anyway. It may take a few days longer to work with so e people but persevere because it does work.
Avatar universal
Hi IIucy, I put a post on this site yesterday, I read yours and I really felt for you. I am the same, suffered with anxiety for years. Sometimes with panic attacks.I also developed the bp phobia, and only this week had a traumatic experience at the doctors. The thing is, there is a way out of this. Maybe youve heard of Mukta Vati by now, it lowers bp amazingly and fast. Ive brought mine back down again in a few days. Even so, when I first sit down to take it I get the phobia, pounding heart etc. But even with that the first readings are not bad at all.  Then I start to relax because of that and it comes down further. Are you in USA ?   if so I see they are sold on Amazon. I have recently got some on ebay here in the UK. Hope this will be of help to you.
Avatar universal
My story is very similar to yours.  I never had fear having my BP done, but ever since i found out my BP was done at my Gp's office, i was terrified of having my BP measured.  The number would usually be high at first, and then later drops to the normal range.  I am very interested in the meditation technique that you had mentioned in your article.  can you talk a little more about it.   Thanks a lot
Avatar universal
I am hoping this helps someone.  I have suffered from anxiety for about 12 years.  I developed a fear with the blood pressure machine while pregnant with my first child and it continued through the birth of my second.  

I have found relief, however, from anxiety in general without using prescribed meds:

1.  Take a magnesium supplement
2.  Radically change your diet to one of "clean eating."  It turned out that artificial sweeteners were root cause of most of my "freak out" episodes.  Unfortunately, they are in most products.  Look up their names so you can be familiar with them and read every label before you consume any item because they are in a lot more than just diet and low sugar items.  Sacchrin, dextrose, (anything with a "ose") to name just a few.  They are in jello, powdered drinks, frozen desserts, the list goes on and on.... You may have a different trigger but clean eating should help you figure out what it is.
3.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol products.  I am convinced that some wines (they are not required to have an ingredient label) have BAD stuff in them.
4.  Exercise regularly - it doesn't have to be crazy, but anyone can take a 30 minute walk each day.
5.  Pray, pray, pray!  God is good and He is always willing to help!  "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

It will probably take about three weeks for all of the "bad stuff" in your system to be gone enough that you will notice a difference in how you feel.  
Avatar universal
I currently need to visit my doctor because of some abdominal pain. But my "fear" of getting my bp checked is what's stopping me.  My parents and my brother all have the same condition.  I know I'm very paranoid but the thought of people knowing I'm taking maintenance at my age because of high bp is really embarrassing for me.  I like the idea of the nurse distracting you from fear or whatever. I hope I could meet a nurse who would understand and act that way.  My hands are very clammy now just thinking about my bp being checked.  But I also want to get over my abdominal pains and my fears.  I'm just really glad that there are people out there who have the same fear as mine.  
Avatar universal
I had it too. Normally my BP was 130/90. But when this anxiety of mine attacked me for the first time, it became 150/100 which made me freak out. I'm pretty surprised my BP surged that high, but when I took another BP the week after, it lowered to 120/70, and maybe it was because i started eating healthy and increased my physical activity.

Avatar universal
I love your post and you are dead right about everything.I have a terrible fear of BP machines and had to get mine taken this morning. It was 150/100 then went down to 150/90 after 10 minutes. not high for me.
at home its 130/70. but i suppose the doctors have a duty of care so they ask me to come back in one week, history repeats itself. I dont think i will ever be able to beath the machine in hospital environment - its a learned behaviour that i just cannot change it seems.
Avatar universal
Thanks I'll try and remember these tips.

I had a really bad panic attack at the dentist/Surgeons office yesterday 11-04-15 right about the time they told me they were going to take my Bp.

The nurse told me as she was placing the cuff on me that it would probably be a little high. I went on to tell her I had White Coat syndrome and I knew it would be high. She looked really concerned as she said it was 180/115. Wow, that's the highest. She gave me water and I told her I would be outside getting some air. It was horrible. I came back inside and I didn't hear anything the gentle speaking surgeon said about extracting my cracked crown/tooth. All I heard was "cadaver bone graft" for my future tooth implant.

When it was time to talk about the payment and setting up a date. I felt the pounding of my blood pressure and could not step in that small sized office space (small pantry closet size)

Again, I told them I would be outside getting air. I grabbed a Coke on my way out. Called my wife and told her I loved her. Explained what happened, she reminded me to breathe. She left work to come be with me. I told her not too I would be fine. She works in another town.

Walked back in to the front desk gave them y credit card for the visit. Walked back just to hand them my credit card and walked out. 5-10 min later walked back in and told them it wasn't a good time for me. I would call them tomorrow. Signed the receipt, grabbed the estimate and left.

I walked to the near by water fountain to listen to the sound as I prayed to God to stay near me.
I prayed, I self talked, the soothing voice from my wife helped but I still felt scared something bad (stroke) or something was going to happen.
Drove to a nearby 7-11 and bought some baby asprin took two and drove home.

My wife came home early rubbed my shoulders and I went to bed. She massaged my back until I went to sleep.

She told me the next day (today) when she came home I looked pale white.

I think it's a combination of things that triggered that horrible panic attack. Loss of sleep, stressed out due to finials at school and trying to keep up at my older age. Dehydrated from energy drinks I drank the day before during my studies.

I feel embarrassed that I couldn't snapped out. It didn't matter what I told myself. I knew it was only a consultation appt. My wife says not to be embarrassed. I am not the only one that has had a panic attack in their office.

This only seems to happen when it comes to my Bp being taken which is at my doctors office. Only this time it happened somewhere else and it felt way more Intense.

Classes are over and I will be staying away from the drinks (energy) as well.

Avatar universal
ur awesome thanks for the suggestion..i usually have a normal bp..but one day when i got admitted in hospital for high fever.everything was normal untill..on the discharge day morning the nurse woke me up and took the reading..that showed 150/90 she was shocked and said its really high and why r u getting such high for ur age(i am 22).from that day when i go to near that machines my hearts starts pacing up..even after one month from now i face that problem..i can hear my heart beating hard face flushing and bp gets hike..i am very concerned with this because i don't know whether i am having a high bp or not..when i recently checked my bp it is showing 150.when i am explaining it to them they are laughing and taking the reading again that instant and making me more nervous..again it shows same and they confirms it i don't know what to do..but you helped me today.
thank you
Avatar universal
Some of these people that work in the dentist do not know what they are doing - I have the same problem - white coat syndrome - when she strapped the little blood pressure strap on me which came from a pharmacy - I guess - and she made me hold my arm straight down - I tried to tell her no - you can't get an accurate reading holding your arm down - but she insisted - by this time I was already aggravated - then it came back way high - she said you nervous - I said yes I am - then I said that reading can not be right and I have never had a reading that high and she said let me get the nurse to take it and when she did the right way with a real blood pressure - it came back a little high not to bad but 30 to 40 points different from the other reading - Now I am a thinking - this tells you that your machine is not working correctly and you are taking blood pressure of people - I asked her - how often does this happen and she said - all the time.  So how many people have left there stressed to the max - going to their dr because of this .   I told my husband - I may go back there to get my teeth cleaned but if they even offer to take my b/p - I will leave -
Avatar universal
I have a similar issue. I had a bout of medical weirdness in Aug '15 (all is well now), but a lingering fear of BP machines has stuck with me. My BP was never high prior to this, and I've taken my BP at home for 2 weeks straight and it was always 117/78 ish.

When I get anxious, the BP can get really high, like 148/88, or some other combination.

Its good to know others have similar experiences.
Avatar universal
I feel the same way. Its absolutely nuts.
Avatar universal
While I havent had my BP go that high, I certainly experience the EXACT same thing you do.

You are not alone.

My doctor recommended I speak to a mental health professional, just in case. It's always a good idea to talk things through with someone who's trained in behavioral science.
Avatar universal
Sometimes, though, when I take my BP at home, especially if i havent done it in weeks, i get anxious until I get used to it.
Avatar universal
I am so happy to have found this thread. I had high blood pressure issues during my pregnancy which cleared up after giving birth but ever since I have a severe anxiety when I even see a bp machine. I have a home bp monitor which has really helped me. My fear now though is when someone else, other than myself, is taking it. I'm scared of it being high, and what they will say. Has anyone dealt with this? Do you say something to the nurse prior to them taking it? Has that helped?

I need to go a chiropractor but am avoiding doing so because I worry they are going to take my bp.
Yes I have performance anxiety with blood pressure machines, which means I am fearful of what others may think.  I take my blood pressure at home and give them readings.  I feel too the medical community is very gready and will get people on meds that they don't need because of kickoffs at the end of the year with taxes
Avatar universal
SO SO glad to find this thread. I normally have 120/80 - all my life. I am 53 now. But I just moved to the burbs from the city and gained 15 lbs and stopped walking 5 miles a day. So my BP went up. It was 143/90 in the CVS 2 weeks ago. Then I had it taken at the Dr.'s office last week and it was 150/100, then I took it at home while so nervous and it was even up to 180/120! Crazy. I am now trying to avoid meds, exercise like crazy, cut out salt, and stay away from that BP monitor! It is the devil. I have BP meds with me but I just think it's the fear of that stupid little machine that is causing this.
Haha...you are so right about being the devil...I suffered a devasting loss of my dad when I was sixteen...I remember that cuff...I suffered for two years  with anxiety and depression but  made it through..conquered my anxiety and I was fine...til now...I am 58... Went to the doc and had a high  reading log,emulirs... their reaction to it freaked me out and today now I sit here afraid to take my measurement..I just can't...I really feel doctors and nurses need to be trained so they don't themselves create this....their freak out freaked me out and I have a Spent two days I. Bed..I am I. Good shape otherwise...diet perfect...don't know what to do now...maybe live with not knowing.
It's likely, if you never had this problem before, to be normal the next time you get it checked -- it varies naturally in all of us, as do lots of things doctors check, such as nutrient levels and hormones.  
Avatar universal
sooooo i have just discovered that i get anxious as **** when i go in for the bp reading even when i'am in the waiting room sweaty palms and sweat from pretty much everywhere just comes on. I'am currently studying para-medicine and have recently had my fitness test with them my first reading was 163/84 with a HR of 65 fair to say i was so nervous it feels like its a test and i go into survival mode and want to do whatever it takes to win (or pass)  after 2 minutes we got it down to 142/80 which is still some what higher than normal but they allow for a "stressful environment". My only advice is which i'am  now taking on board is yep fear of a bp reading is definitely a thing and just go  in there happy and have a laugh because lets face it we are never gonna get 120/80 its just not gonna happen unless were inside our own home and our mate does our bp reading for us anywhoo thats my rant :)
Avatar universal
I have extremely bad white coat syndrome.  I lived in another state for 30+ years and my doctors (cardiologist, nephrologist, urologist and primary) all worked with me on it.  I found a BP monitor that had a printer so I could print out my home readings.  I would take them to my doctor visits and they did not require that my BP be taken at the office.  About once a year, I brought in my monitor and they took my BP in one arm and used my BP monitor for the other arm to make sure my machine was working properly.  I recently moved to a new state and my husband and I chose a doctor (much to our dismay) that would not even discuss the type of arrangements I had with my other doctors of 30+ years.   Since I was short on meds, I had to go through the visit.  My BP reading when they took it was 210/132 and she did not say a word about it being that high even with white coat syndrome.  My other doctors, on my first visit to them, always asked more questions and delved into the extremely high blood pressure readings that they get.  My normal blood pressure at home is 115/60 to 125/70.
This doctor was very rude to both my husband and to me.  Her staff mirrored her attitude.  Needless to say we are in the process of finding a new doctor.  We are not people who are difficult with doctors and have had the same doctors for many years.  Two of the doctors have become friends and have been to our home and we have interacted socially.  
My white coat syndrome is not only exhausting to me, but a threat to my well being since I have an abdominal aneurysm and only one kidney.   I sympathize with all who have this same reaction to blood pressure.  I have tried hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis, meditation, etc. and have complete control over the rest of my life, but was never able to conquer this problem.  
If you can find compassionate doctors who really care about you, they will work with you so that you suffer the minimum stress.
Avatar universal
I think it might have to do with low self esteem, are you afraid of what others might think, do you think you are somehow odd and others will think you are strange or somehow think less of you?  If so change it, be courageous if it's high just say I've been like this all  my life
laugh, say I will take my Blood pressure at home and if need so I'll bring it in and let you see my readings.
Avatar universal
I've been writing out what goes into my mind on a piece of paper, and basically it's very self conscious, and thinking of what others might think, a kid thing that has to do with not feeling I'm as good as other's, this has been a part of me since childhood, it's like self punishment.  So the answer to my situation is at home by myself readings, and bring them to the doctor, also too the cuff is very uncomfortable, I really dislike it, so what I do is pray, meditation is very relaxing, and laugh, knowing I am a good person no matter what, and being anxious for what ever reasons, plays no role in how beautiful of a person I am, and now I realize there are many folks out there that hate blood pressure readings too, so knowing I am not alone, I am perfectly normal, makes this a lot lighter, and much more laughable.:):)
Avatar universal
Hello Everyone,
I have a friend who has the same problem.

I've found the "fitness tracker" wristband "Riversong wave BP" that takes the blood pressure every hour during the night : it doesn't squeeze your wrist, you don't feel anything when it checks your blood pressure.

You can also check your blood pressure during the day but manually...

It also check your heart rate. It's also a pedometer...

I've compared the results with a medical machine and the results are accurate.

When you read comments about this product on internet, you will see that some people are happy and some people are disappointed…

If you use this wristband, check the results with a real medical machine (you can ask a friend to do it for you).

I don't work for the brand "Riversong", I just hope that this information will help you…

Good luck.
Avatar universal
My dear God. I'm not alone. I thought this was something my mom passed me. She also had higher than usual BP when going to the doctor, but I can see that a lot of people suffer from it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't suffer from very high BP. Is just plain and simple anxiety. I'm 51, and the last time I went to the cardiologist, my BP was 160/90, and HR was around 140. The doctor prescribed Diovan 320mg, and asked me to keep measuring my HR, and advice him if it came lower. Just walking out of the hospital, it went down to 90, and at home, it was steady around 75.

A couple weeks later, I started feeling weird, lacking strength, feeling feverish, not even been able to touch my wife. I called the doctor, and told me to go down to Diovan 160mg. I felt better the next day. It's been 6 months since, and I haven't had the courage to measure my BP again. I plan to get the wrist machine, and see if I can manage to reduce the anxiety and measure it, at least a couple times a week.

But that's not all I've done for my health. I reduced salt consumption to a minimum, cut egg intake in half, I eat salmon 3-4 times a week, no pork, less bread, zero rice, breakfast is 1 boiled egg and a cup of cereal with some fruit and liquid yogurt, lunch is broiled chicken, or a piece of stake (no salt), salad and sometimes lentils or beans, and jello. Dinner is usually a big plate of salad with only olive oil, sometimes avocado and zucchini, and a piece of either salmon or chicken breast, with a few drops of olive oil in a hot dry pan. And a couple apples. That's all. I also walk fast for an hour 3-4 times a week.

I also eliminated sodas completely, I only drink water and wine ;) I also eat raw carrots or apples for afternoon snack, or peanuts and almonds.

I had a blood test a few weeks before going to the doctor last December, and my cholesterol was a bit higher than the normal level, but just a tad bit. I imagine that by now it should be normalized, with the dieting I'm doing. Tryglicerides were about normal.

So, as I said, my plan is to get the wrist machine, and have another set of blood tests on October or November, and go visit my doctor again the first week of December.

Now I know that my fear is real, and is the main cause of my higher than usual BP, since I don't have any symptoms whatsoever. No head aches, no nothing. My only symptoms started once I started taking the Diovan, and I've read it does get side effects, like increased sensitivity to heat. And sadly I live in a very hot country, so the weather doesn't help. That could be another cause of what I feel.

I was particularly relieved when I read nurse Greenlydia post about relaxing and stop reading "10 ways to die from high BP".
In fact since I had my BP taken at work last year, and it was obviously high, there is a record of that in my file, so next week there is a "High BP awareness workshop" and there will be a nutritionist and a doctor there, and I was "required" to attend. But I plan not to, one because it freaks me out, and I know they will measure everyone's BP. And secondly, because I don't need to read about how bad high BP is to your health, and what can happen to you if you don't take care of it. I KNOW is bad, for Christ's sake, and that's why I went to the doctor, that is why I'm dieting, and why I'm exercising. I don't mind the lecture about nutrition, but I'm sure I can find the same information on a google search.

Anyway, thanks again for this thread. It really made me feel good, supported and understood. I'm not alone. Yipeeee!!!! Love you guys and gals.
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