It seems that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to change it’s guidelines on how high blood pressure is to be diagnosed. I mention this because I get quite a few people being refered to exercise due to high blood pressure, and it is one of the things included in the physical/fitness assessments (click here for more info) I conduct on people.
One major new recommendation from NICE is to confirm a patients hypertension by continuously monitoring their blood pressure over a 24 hour period. In other words, while they are stressed, relaxed, sedentary, active, sleeping etc. This will help reduce the common “white coat effect”. The “white coat effect” is when the blood pressure and heart rate of a person temporarily increases when a doctor/nurse/lab technician starts strapping things to them and saying they are now facing a “test” (I remember my heart was in my throat when walking into my exams in university!).
I see this white coat effect when I do my own assessments on clients. I take their blood pressure multiple times over at least half an hour. And by the 6th or 7th time, everyone has got used to it, calmed down, relaxed and their numbers always improve (drop). It is these later numbers that I pay attention to.