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446896 tn?1237802742

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
585414 tn?1288941302
Two issues. As regards blood pressure that is a specific health issue I am not familar with so I can't offer specific advice. Post in the forum for that. Of course if your anxiety disorder speeds up your blood pressure then that's another issue but both need to get under control. But I never found blood pressure machines unnerving. Many things that were unnerving I got used to such as weekly bloodtests from Clozaril (which I was on years ago). After a while they were just a fact of life and I would get them once a week and head off to work. As for blood pressure I have a blood pressure machine. I was on Atenolol for a while (to control e.p.s., when I was on conventional antipsychotics) then Clonidine (to control dystonic spasms) and now Tenex (same purpose although both serve as mood stabilizers, as well). More importantly, taking my blood pressure is standard and as well I take Zofran (for tardive dyskinesia, although it has somewhat of a mood stabilizing effect) as well since both drop blood pressure, when titrating the medications at first it went way low and I did have to call my neurologist and psychiatrist asap. But the machine itself is harmless.
  As for being concerned about blood pressure that's important but I noticed after I had a minor disagreement with someone my pulse went way up so controlling anxiety will help and stress is good for no one. Its important to remember people with anxiety disorder do blow worries out of proportion. That's true. But unless someone is experiencing psychosis as I did before recovery then the worries are not entirely unrealistic. We can't hide from them but we must understand them factually. Then they don't seem frightening to begin with. If you don't have a blood pressure disorder reading books on it will just scare you but if you do need to monitor for blood pressure then just consider it something to balance out and what are the proper numbers. The more its approached logically the less time you'll have for anxiety and that may help overall with life's issues if it could be extended to other matters.
992534 tn?1249394529
I know this thread is kind of old, but I had to respond.  I have had a fear of having my BP taken ever since I was 16, and I am now 29.  I had a very unpleasant experience with my pediatrician in 1996.  My BP was a little up for my age, probably because I was scared of going to the doctor in the first place, and he gave me an embarrassing lecture about my weight in front of my mother.  I was crying when I left the office, and felt humiliated.  Ever since then, I have DREADED having my BP taken.  I think it really did something to me psychologically, as if having a high BP is something to be ashamed of, and I fear the judgmental health professionals out there.  It's ridiculous to say it out loud, but I fear the cuff and the entire process.  I took a CNA course in college, and the day we practiced taking BPs, I actually left early so that I wouldn't have to be anyone's guinea pig.  

Because of my fear, I often avoid the doctor (and even the dentist, since they often take BP there too) even when I need to go.  I have no problem with shots or having my blood drawn, or even any kind of pain; but the thing I fear is the BP cuff or machine.  I mean, it is a terror for me.  

I know that it is something I need to learn to accept.  I am 29 years old, and I am not getting any younger, and high BP does run in my family.  I am also overweight, though I have lost 25 pounds in the last couple of years.  I still have a good way to go, though, before I am at the correct weight for my height and age.  I can't keep avoiding the doctor when I need one, but I am just so afraid of having a high BP reading and getting another lecture.  I am even afraid of taking it at the store on a public machine.  I fear what I will see.  What if it's high?  Then, I'll know it's high AND I'll be afraid to go to the doctor because he/she will see it, AND I'll be afraid of what could happen to me because it's high.  It's a vicious, ridiculous cycle.  Just typing all of this makes me feel so silly, but it is a true and deep fear for me.  One of my biggest, right up there with flying.

Anyway, I am surprised to see that there are others out there with this same fear.  I always thought I was alone in fearing having my BP taken.  It does help to know that other people suffer from this fear.  Thank you, greenlydia, for your suggestions and for your story about the patient you helped.  Maybe soon I can try a public BP machine and try some relaxation techniques beforehand so that I can get through it.  If I could learn to get used to it and not feel like a panic attack comes on when I even SEE a cuff, I could get myself back on track and going to get checkups regularly.
Avatar universal
It may be a bit late to post my comment now but I really felt relieved as soon as I found you! I thought I was the only one in the world having this fear and felt stupid and ashamed to speak about it.
It's become a nightmare. I find myself thinking about it and how to get over it or trying to take it by myself as if I had to prove that I'm brave and strong.
It all became when I had my BP taken by doctors in an ambulance.I was waiting for a coach to take me to the airport where I had to catch a flight back home. My nose started bleeding. I never had that problem before. I felt a bit shocked and worried. What if I missed my plane home? What do I do now? I'm alone, I don't know anybody. I saw an ambulance and asked the operators for some ice. They decided to take my BP to stay on the safe side. I sat inside teh ambulance and when they started the procedure my train of thoughts took the control. I felt I was about to panic and just for a moment I thought " What if it's high? I'm gonna be stuck here, they'll send me to the hospital and I'll never be able to go back home. My parents will be informed and will be so worried and we'll have to come to the hospital." I saw myself lying in a bed, desperate, alone in a hospital, being scared by the sad and worried faces of the doctors looking at me as if I was hopeless. The pressure that day was just a bit higher than normal because I felt my pulse accelerating. I felt the need to justify it and felt a bit hurt by their comments and even ashamed.
Since then I've been totally, literally petrified everytime I see the BP monitor machine. I've been tempted to buy it myself several times but as I tried once and felt a need of escaping I just abandoned the thought.
I  'm sorry for those of you who have my problem but at the same time I feel relieved! It's not a crazy and unreasonable thing  as I thought!
Thanks all!
The what If  journal you will be amazed as what your thoughts try to trick you into thinking
Avatar universal
I appreciate all these posts are old, however have found comfort in this site. I too suffer with this problem. I have a history of panic attacks. However happy to say after many sessions I am pretty much panic free. Apart form medical procedures (I can live with this). Whilst on holiday I had a weird bite/blister and had to go to hospital just to get it looked at. Well I got myself in a right old state. Had a full on panic attac! Sily really got into the docs he said it was fine, cleaned it up, gave me some anti’s and that was it! (felt silly for getting in a big tizz, but that’s me and part of who I am). Well during this process they too my BP! I didn’t even think about it being high even though my hb was about 160! I had the shakes, was hyperventilating and had palpitations. The doc just said hmmm that’s quite high then said but your stressed and didn’t appear overly concerned.
As I left the docs I had a print out of my experience and there it was 168/99 said hypertension risk! At that point I should have just processed why! But no not me. I thought “what if I have BP problems” even though I had looked on the internet and see that when we panic we release adrenalin which increases the pulse and makes our BP go up all logical. Well I decided to forget about it and was logical until this point my BP had always been fine and I didn’t want to get a phobia about it!
Then I fell pregnant. I was over the moon and still am… however suddenly when reading through my antenatal notes realised that at each visit they take urine and you guessed it BP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could literally here the theme from psycho ringing through my head. How will I cope, what will I do, I won’t be able to keep calm. Coupled with the fact I know any doc wont be happy if its high, even if I look stressed! As this is one of the main indicators for preeclampsia. I felt desperate.
So I thought lets be positive, armed myself with self help books, breathing exercises, whale music. Attended the 12 week scan all went well. Then had my appointment I got in a right panic nearly 9 out of 10. was flushed, had palps, sweating. Took BP, said it would be high and it WAS 160/100!!!! Eeek doc looked abit alarmed. I explained my situ. They didn’t seem to understand. They said I didn’t look stressed ( I have learnt to hide it, plus I don’t fear panics anymore and I knew what was causing this one). He quiet rightly needed to be satisfied he did it again down to 140/90 better! Still I wasn’t relaxed.. Kept messing with cuffs. Well he let me out eventually but still looked slightly uneasy. Which meant I thought he thinks I have high BP when I should have thought he is doing his job, I am pregnant so he has to cover all bases.
So I brought a home BP monitor! And now I am obsessed with it. The 1st reading still always high usually 146/75! Usually top figure that is high. Then always goes down to 120 over 70! After a few mins. Its like the first reading is my fear then I calm from there.
Yesterday I did yoga was totally chilled but the BP cuff on heart rate shot instantly form 75 beats to 138! And BP was 150 /76 then I relaxed, breathed and it went down consistently to 125 – 130! So I know it always goes down! If I had high BP it wouldn’t always go down it would remain at the same figure. I do really believe deep deep down that I am fine and do not have any BP problems. However I can’t understand at all why I can’t control that first reading.
In all other area’s of my life my anxiety has disappeared. Maybe its just my way of putting some control into my pregnancy!
All I do know is I have 8 more appointments (yes I have counted and I cant keep doing this to me or baby). At my 16 weeks appointment the midwife was great, it was 136/86 she said I am totally fine with it, not worried at all. Thought it would be higher.
I know all the logic, I understand all the logic. I just cant stop that immediate reaction when the cuff goes on. Its helped just to write all this down!
Any advice welcome
Avatar universal
I too suffer from this...I see that some of the posts are years old but just wanted to comment and like the comfort of knowing I am not alone with this.  Everytime someones says BP, I see a BP machine or whatever, I freak out.  My BP gets so high in my DR office (I HATE going there because I know they are going to take me BP).  My DR has mentioned that she worries with BP that high during an anxiety attack you could have a stroke.  So she put me on a low dose of BP meds and anxiety meds.  But, even with those (they make me feel less anxious in general) I still freak out with the BP machine and it goes up...ugh, so sick and tired of it...it's been like this for awhile now and I just feel helpless...if anyone has any tips, please let me know...
Avatar universal
I cannot believe, but am so relieved, that I am NOT the ONLY person this affects!!!!  I get so nervous about going to the Dr that my blood pressure shoots through the moon.  When I see someone else getting theirs taken, I get sick to my stomach.  My Dr. does not believe me.  I take my BP at home (takes quite a few tries because of, yes, I feel like I'm gonna fail a "test") but I eventually get a normal reading.  She increases my BP meds then I don't function at all.  I end up cutting the dose in half!  A lot of the problem IS knowing the nurse is going to make some comment.  Also, I asked the nurse when I went to the Dr. last week why they don't follow the guidelines and let you sit still and relax for 5 minutes before they take your BP and she said they can't!  I suppose time is the reason.  Anyway, makes me feel somewhat better just knowing I'm not losing my mind.  I think I'll print these and take them to the next visit!
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