Phobia taking blood pressure

by Jim
(Louisiana)

I have this problem taking my blood pressure. It's not just white coat syndrome, I have the phobia and fear when I am home and trying to take it. When my BP is taken, I go into a panic and the reading shoots up very high which causes additional fear and panic. I obsess about this night and day, to the point of panic when just thinking about taking my BP. My Dr. wants a record from home to be more relaxed but to no avail. I keep cancelling Dr's appointments because of the panic and extreme stress this causes. Diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder. I have tried many, many meds. which have not helped, just added side effects. I have had this problem for about twenty years and would like to find relief and peace. Maybe someone could give some suggestions. Seeing a therapist and psychiatrist but little progress......thanks....Jim


Answer:

Phobias like this are more common than you may think. It can be really frustrating because the more you try to talk yourself out of becoming anxious, the more anxious you become.

Below are some relaxation exercises that might help because they involve re-training the body to respond differently. It takes most people a few weeks of daily practice to start to notice results.

I hope this helps!

Relaxation for Coping with Panic

Retraining the Amygdala

Anchoring

Biofeedback Therapy Relaxation

Deal with Squeamishness

Feb 17, 2016
Can't calm down
by: Anonymous

Hello all! So very glad to find this site. I never had a problem worrying about blood pressure until my dad had a stroke. Now I get white coat Hbp each time I go in. It even carries over to my home checking. I realize that I may be genetically disposed to hbp, but I want accurate readings in case I end up Having to take meds as I don't want to over medicate. And does anyone else feel like having Hbp makes them "defective" in a way? Maybe that's why we get anxious; we enter want to admit maybe we are getting old, are vulnerable, have to watch what we eat etc. I think maybe that's my issue. Also, I wore an ambulatory monitor but I had positive results: it definitely showed white coat hypertension- the rest f the reading were quite good. Everyone take care, a glad we found each other!

Feb 18, 2016
blood pressure phobia
by: Pat

I not only have the blood pressure phobia, now I've developed
hypochondriac issues as well !! I retired from my job last year and have too much time on my hands..My doctor put me on a low dose blood pressure medication, but it doesn't seem to help..I told her that I feel I'm doing this to myself because of anxiety when taking my blood pressure.

Feb 21, 2016
Anxiety and bp
by: Anonymous

I'm so glad to read this . I am 38 and diagnosed with high bp but I am struggling with bp anxiety right now. Two months ago at least the docs office I had a bp measure of 107/74 beautiful right? Months before that 118/82. This was all with taking meds and not worrying about my bp. That all changed when I got a bad blood test result about my fasting glucose. I have been waking up panicked over taking my blood sugar . Great now 2 phobias! Well the anxiety sent me over the edge and I woke up with my heart racing and thought I was having a heart attack. Took my bp and it was in the 180s! That sent me into a tailspin I kept taking it until it lowered my last reading after taking it around 20 times throughout the day was130/84. I know it is my anxiety and now I shake just thinking about taking it but I feel compulsive like if I don't take it I won't know it's high and I'll have a heart attack. I feel so stupid and weak and scared.

Feb 21, 2016
You are scaring yoursel
by: Montrealer

To "Anxiety and bp" dated Feb 21, 2016

The first time I saw 180 was 6 months ago in the doctor office.

How I got it? well it started with dr taking first "manual" reading and saying ummmhhh you have 160, that's high (actually I didn't have a chance to rest before the measurement).

Then she put me on the automatic one but the damage was done and I was really scared ... the results was 180 with the machine. Told her that it is just because I'm anxious, she said ok but normally I'm not supposed to let you go with that pressure so high.

I've been measuring it since at home and, as supposed to be since it is like the pulse, sometimes it is high and sometimes it is normal or close to normal.

You should be worried if it is always high or let's say consistently high, otherwise it is anxiety ... you will notice that most of the time systolic and pulse are related.

As mentioned in one of my previous comments, Dr's should work on the patient psychology to do an accurate measuring unfortunately they don't have time and they seem not to care.

The other thing, while you are measuring if you feel that your heart is pounding and that you are anxious stop the machine and relax before trying ... you can also get yourself distracted while measuring, like talking on the phone or watching a movie or surfing (yes I know they you have to keep quite but quite most of the time can get you anxious.

Good luck and Low with the HBP!


Feb 24, 2016
BP anxiety
by: Anonymous

I too have this problem and it's comforting to know that I'm not alone! I only have to think about having my BP taken and can feel it rising, especially if the monitor is electronic. My GP uses a manual monitor which nearly always gives normal readings but it goes sky high whenever an electronic monitor is used - even when I take my BP at home. I think it's something to do with the noise it makes then you wait for it to keep pumping knowing this means your BP is high which makes it worse! I would advise anyone with this problem to find a GP who uses the old fashioned manual machine, which are just as accurate as the electronic ones and far less stressful! Good luck to you all!

Feb 27, 2016
taking BP at home
by: j

I don't mind the wrist monitor and that has helped me ... I take it every day at home to keep myself 'desensitized' but it still goes up in the doctors office but not as bad as it used to .... I've been getting normal readings at the doctors which surprise the heck out of me but I always warn the nurse that I have white coat and I think that helps me relax. The old fashioned way of taking it scares me more than the electric but we all have our phobia quirks. I've been to a therapist for this and that helped so I would advise anyone here to try that if all else fails ... there's nothing wrong w/ getting some 'coping tools' Good luck!!

Feb 29, 2016
I'm in the same boat
by: Anonymous

Wow!! so glad I found this site. I, too, have a phobia of getting my blood pressure taken at a clinic or hospital (it's just fine when I take it at home). like many of you, just the thought of having it taken makes me panic. Even when I see a bp machine at the clinic, I panic and can just feel my bp rising. I've had this issue for many years. I'm having surgery next week and tomorrow I have to do the pre-ops. I'm dreading it because I know they will take my blood pressure.

Mar 07, 2016
HOW TO GET RID BP PHOBIA
by: BP PHOBIA

I HAVE THIS SAME PROBLEM.. HOW DO I GET RID OF TAKING BP MEASURE...I"M NERVOUS WHILE TAKING BP EITHER AT HOME OR HOSPITAL...I WILL GET NERVOUS IF I SEE BP MACHINE or EVEN IF ANY ONE TALKS ABOUT BP OR TAKING BP.. PLEASE FRIENDS HELP ME......

Mar 08, 2016
Half in my head?
by: Ron75

I always had white Coat and I just came to the conclusion that a reading of 160/90 at the doctor’s office was my normal. The important thing, it always went down when I took my pressure at home. About 6 years ago, I started to notice that my readings at home started to creep up from around 130/85 to
145 /90 so I went to the doctors to report my findings. He said, since I exercise daily (Bicycle 4 miles each morning, then walk about another mile), he wanted to put me on 50 Mils of metoprolol. This helped bring it down some, but I noticed that I was starting to get very anxious each time I checked my pressure at home with my monitor. (An Omron automatic digital). When I first sat down, my pressure was always at least 150/90. I would then sit and try NOT to think about the reading….it would always come down after about 10 minutes…..to a more normal 130/85. My doctor has since increased my dosage to 150 mils. Half in the Morning, half in the evening before bed. Even with this high dosage, I am still very anxious about taking the reading. I learned to watch the readout and stop it when the cuff gets to over 170…..thus cancelling it before it finished the check. I found that a digit inflation of over 170 gives me a reading of above 145/over 90….so I learned to just "wait" until the inflation pressure is a bit lower before I get the "real" reading. Comforting, my doctor says "spiking" is normal for many people during the day. Spiking can be even as high as 200/100!.The key is not to be spiking for a long period of time…days or even weeks….(this is rare even for those of us in here that have this cursed "arm band syndrome"). Thanks for all your contributions…. I am glad you guys are here to help put a little prospective to it. My friends and family…many…think this is just a lot of stuff in my head.

Mar 10, 2016
surgery
by: j

I have this problem and when the anesthesiologist asked me if I had a problem w/ my blood pressure I told him 'no' just anxiety so as he started to take my blood pressure he put me to sleep and when I was coming to my BP on the monitor was just fine so hopefully when you have your surgery that's what they'll do! Good Luck! I'm hoping that's the last surgery of my life as the pre anxiety was horrible and all b/c I didn't know what my BP was going to be. If you can find a doctor that understands that should help. I'm finally comfortable (as comfortable as I'll ever be) w/ my PCP and I've been getting a normal BP in her office although I still go through my white-coat spiel to the nurse every time just in case! it's embarrassing but also VERY common, We are not alone!

Mar 10, 2016
Medical Alert Card
by: Anonymous Nurse

I am thinking of making a Medical Alert Card to carry when I go to new health care settings. It will say something like this:

"I have a strong stress reaction to taking having my blood pressure taken. My primary care physician is following my blood pressure and is aware of my hyper-reactivity. His phone number is XXXXXXXXX if you need further information.
I would prefer you not take my blood pressure but if it becomes essential for my care please take it after giving me time to adjust to your office and staff and take it more than once when my heart rate has reached its normal range of 60-70 beats per minute. Thank you for your caring understanding of my circumstances."

What do you think?

Mar 10, 2016
Medical Alert Card
by: Anonymous Nurse

I am thinking of making a Medical Alert Card to carry when I go to new health care settings. It will say something like this:

"I have a strong stress reaction to having my blood pressure taken. My primary care physician is following my blood pressure and is aware of my hyper-reactivity. His phone number is XXXXXXXXX if you need further information.
I would prefer you not take my blood pressure but if it becomes essential for my care please take it after giving me time to adjust to your office and staff and take it more than once when my heart rate has reached its normal range of 60-70 beats per minute. Thank you for your caring understanding of my circumstances."

What do you think?

Mar 11, 2016
Medical Alert ID
by: Noreen

That is such a great idea.

I need to make an appt. for my "yearly" exam and I am dreading it. The doctor is nice, but I don't think she believed me that I don't have high blood pressure. I wouldn't let her take it. At home it is normal. When I was there last year, I thought she believed me, but then when I took my blood test order, I noticed she had used a code for high blood pressure for several of the tests, which really made me angry, (probably raising my bp!).

This is such an extremely annoying problem.

Mar 12, 2016
Good idea
by: Tauqeer

This is a great idea, if the Medical card can be authorised by a Medical practitioner, it would end all of our meseries and this might kind bring back of lost confidence.

Mar 12, 2016
Provider Technique
by: Anonymous Nurse

You might find the information on this AHA site informative. Notice the very specific instructions about correct measurement of BP ( BP cuff level with heart, wait 5 minutes before taking the first BP reading, take multiple readings, etc).
I rarely have my BP taken by someone who follows all these procedures correctly.

How careful are your health care providers?

http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/45/1/142.full

Mar 12, 2016
Healthcare personal needs BP training
by: Montrealer

You right Anonymous Nurse, upset me a lot when my doctor or the nurse wants to take my blood pressure. They don't respect the basic basics on how to do it correctly .... which makes my blood boils of anger :-)


Mar 13, 2016
How does a person know?
by: MelGee

Since I was 18 years old more or less I have had a bad phobia about someone (even me) taking my blood/pressure. As many of you, the placement of the B/P cuff causes mine to shoot up like a rocket. I have no pain or symptoms, other than the meter says my B/P is to high, OR once it was too low. The text book says only 120/80 is good, every other reading is bad, and could kill you any second. Of course I don't have to tell you how this can ruin your day, week or life. I have been in the hospital several times, with nothing found. Actually I did have High B/P once and the signs were hard to miss. Three days in the hosp fixed the unknown problem. Believe me they did several MRI's and many other tests, Only to find nothing. I know the meter is all they have to indicate there is a problem, so it's a no win situation. I have spent thousands of dollars on hospital visits, and medication with one problem in which I actually DID have high B/P. and believe my body knew it. I am currently past 70 years old, and who knows, there could be a real problem. One day a couple of weeks ago mine was excellent, only to find a couple of days later it's very high. All I can say is when my B/P was in fact dangerously high I knew it. My eyes wouldn't process the information being sent to my brain. I can feel for you who are cursed with this problem. I have no idea what causes it, and neither do the doctors. Maybe GOD will tell us by n by. Good luck to you.

Mar 13, 2016
Good doctors visit
by: Anonymous

I recently went for my yearly exam and my bp was pretty good. I was shocked but my doctor is so cool. He's an older man who jokes around and it so nice. He never hypes things up and always has a calm approach. He takes the time to listen and explain things. I have been working out a lot lifting running etc and also eating a small piece of dark chocolate daily really helps with bp. My advice to everyone is to find a great doctor. Ask around and if u don't like yours switch! Exercise and keep busy. Don't take your bp unless you are instructed to do so. My doctor told me I don't need to check mine. It's fine. I was so happy and everyone can be too. Stop stressing over your bp it fluctuates daily and can be high during times of stress and normal most of the time. If u do check follow the guidelines. Wait 5 min rest make sure you're doing it right. If you're nervous or anxious don't check it. Or check it a few times but don't look at the number. Practice this many times until you get comfortable. And then look at the number later. Enjoy life and don't stress over this silly thing anymore. There's bigger problems to worry about. Thanks

Mar 14, 2016
For MelGee
by: Anonymous

Dear MelGee,
The text books state 120/80 as an ideal BP but 130/70 is good as are several other readings.
As we get older it does change and our age is taken into account when having BP taken at the doctors.
As the previous contributor stated don't take it when anxious but don't avoid if asked to take readings, just take several and it will get lower each time.
As I get white coat syndrome I prefer to take my own readings over a fortnight and give them to the doctor.
I also take it occasionally when relaxed, that way it isn't a phobia anymore.

Mar 18, 2016
A case
by: Anonymous

hi, fellows.
My story:
-about 40 years old I measure pressure 150/100 and a doctor higher.
-I went a specialist. my pressure was monitored under heavy physical load. The diagnose:no hypertension.
-10 years ago I was so tired that I let a doctor measure my pressure- 175/105
-I refused medication. Doctor was so angry that wanted to prove to me. He did send me ambulatory monitoring.
-result 24 hours average 119/80
-I solemly promised to me never let measurement
-I wanted my driving licence maintained 70 years old
-pressure measurement needed- 220/110
-home measurements: 170/100 daytime, evening when very sleepy 125/68 usually at least 150/80
-now I am going to ambulatory!,,,,,

Btw: common sense and a phillosofe David Hume:
If in the you hear the voice as horse valuing thing a horse not A zebra.


-

Mar 24, 2016
Someone needs to invent a forehead scanner
by: Jill

Wow, I am blown away reading all of your comments! So comforting to know I'm not totally wacko! I am embarassed to talk about this to anyone unless I think they would be compassionate, or have the issue themselves and understand.

It has been gradual for me, as alot of you, that this came on. I always had great BP, on the low end in fact. I am 55 and it changed in the last few years. My mom died 5 years ago of a succession of heart attacks and finally strokes. She didn't take that great of care of herself, overweight and didn't exercise but boy did she enjoy her life! I feel my lifestyle is alot better than hers, I've been doing yoga for 25 years, and walk and bike ride alot. Try to eat pretty healthy with occasional junk, and don't drink much. I think watching her go thru this, and all the Dr. visits and hospital stays I went along on was the beginning of my anxiety about this. Well she passed, then my dad was alone and I watched over him for 3 years, going along on all the Dr visits and hospital stays. He had totally different issues, and was my stepdad, so no worries about health related matters. Tho I loved him like a dad, and called him that! He passed 1 1/2 years ago.

Since then I have had an aversion to the Dr. and get anxious when I have to go, which isn't much. Right now my annual pap exam is coming up, and the fear is building. I wish someone could invent a forehead scanner to take BP, because for me if it could be over quicker I think it would be a more accurate reading. I have an older style cuff at home that you pump up and it gives a digital readout. The beeping bothers me tho. My husband started checking his BP as the doc recommended and was told to get a new Omiron model, which we did. That thing give me super high readings, I can't stand it! When the cuff starts to tighten I feel my heart start to race, and then the reading throws me into a funk for the day. Such a viscious cycle! I really feel I am pretty healthy otherwise.

All of your comments have helped me to go with the idea to just go in and talk to the doc and explain, without the nurse taking my BP 1st. I am building the courage, thank you all so much for sharing! There is comfort here and I am grateful :)

Mar 25, 2016
B/P
by: Anonymous SJP

Just found your website alleluia. Have had this phobia since my eldest was born she is 37 now.My Doc then used to take the machine off the table
as I felt sick and faint. Just been hospital
visiting and my eyes are glued to the machine which reads b/p. Ive told my family if ever
I have to go to hospital they must tell the
medics of my phobia. It has stopped me going for
jobs where a medical is needed. With my second child I had to go private with my Doc writing a letter explaining my problem. All through labours my b/p was normal. My present Doc totally gets it and I just show her my b/p readings taken at home which are normal. So glad to
find out I am not on my own. I feel a freak

Mar 25, 2016
Anyone live near Chicago area?
by: Noreen

Everyone once in a while I keep asking. If there is someone, with this same nuisance of a problem, near me. I'd love to get together with them to commiserate and heal.

Please let me know: turquoisesilver@hotmail.com

Mar 25, 2016
Not as dangerous as you think
by: KB801

I want to emphasize that you can have high readings intermittantly and even if it is high all the time it takes a long time to kill you, you will not have a stroke right away as many think (you still need to keep it under control if you can) -Just read that a top number of 170, whichever doc would treat, brought down to below 140, would save 2 people out of 100 from a stroke for five years - you still want to lower it but don't have to go loco about it -

I know fears are not rational, and I still have the phobia but its gotten better so that I can take it at home and its okay. Went to doc the other day and he now only takes my home readings - nurse always want to take it and complains when I say no but you need to stand your ground on this, and find another doc if the one you have now doesn't understand

Apr 04, 2016
Finally
by: Florida11101

So, here I was thinking I was the only person with an intense phobia of getting my BP taken. I do not have whitecoat syndrome. Actually, if I go into a medical facility and I know that my BP will not be taken, I feel very relaxed and great. But, when I know or even suspect that the dreaded BP machine will latch onto my arm....I get into a really tense state. This happens days before the appointment and just builds.
So, here is how I go the phobia. I am in the military and have been for the past 18 years. I have always had great BP readings until 2009. I never even noticed my BP was being taken before that date. I went in, and I had just run up the stairs and was called in soon after. The cuff was put on and the result was a high reading. The medical technician looked at me crazy and asked if I had just run a marathon, I said no. He said "Your blood pressure is really high".
That is literally all it took to gain this fear. I do stuff in the military that is risky, stressful and instills fear. I strap on firefighting equipment, work on the flight deck of ships....etc. I have no fear of anything....except getting my BP taken.
It was so bad in 2011 that I had an EKG done and it turned out fine, just a high heart rate.
Because I am in the military, I see a different doctor each time. So, I have to explain to a different doctor every time that I only have high BP and pulse in the medical facility.
I went to the dentist the other day and my pulse rate was 159. Really high. I went to medical a few days later and my pulse was 154 with a 145/95 BP. For me, that is REALLY high. If I take it at a CVS or Walgreens by myself, I get a 110/70 or so. My resting pulse rate is about 55-70. I am not so sure that it is the actually machine, but the reading that the machine gives and the response from the medical staff. So, I know this is just a fear in my head, and an irrational fear, but I can do nothing to control it.
So, when you feel like you have this fear and it is bad, just know that a military officer, who leads over 100 people into stressful and dangerous situations has the same problem as you.

I do not have a solution for this issue, and am not aware of a solution that works. I am starting to try breathing techniques and some relaxing herbs, but too early to tell. I have a medical appointment tomorrow, so I know I have to explain this again.
Well, at least I know there are others who have this problem. Good luck to everyone.

Apr 04, 2016
Finally
by: Florida

So, here I was thinking I was the only person with an intense phobia of getting my BP taken. I do not have whitecoat syndrome. Actually, if I go into a medical facility and I know that my BP will not be taken, I feel very relaxed and great. But, when I know or even suspect that the dreaded BP machine will latch onto my arm....I get into a really tense state. This happens days before the appointment and just builds.
So, here is how I go the phobia. I am in the military and have been for the past 18 years. I have always had great BP readings until 2009. I never even noticed my BP was being taken before that date. I went in, and I had just run up the stairs and was called in soon after. The cuff was put on and the result was a high reading. The medical technician looked at me crazy and asked if I had just run a marathon, I said no. He said "Your blood pressure is really high".
That is literally all it took to gain this fear. I do stuff in the military that is risky, stressful and instills fear. I strap on firefighting equipment, work on the flight deck of ships....etc. I have no fear of anything....except getting my BP taken.
It was so bad in 2011 that I had an EKG done and it turned out fine, just a high heart rate.
Because I am in the military, I see a different doctor each time. So, I have to explain to a different doctor every time that I only have high BP and pulse in the medical facility.
I went to the dentist the other day and my pulse rate was 159. Really high. I went to medical a few days later and my pulse was 154 with a 145/95 BP. For me, that is REALLY high. If I take it at a CVS or Walgreens by myself, I get a 110/70 or so. My resting pulse rate is about 55-70. I am not so sure that it is the actually machine, but the reading that the machine gives and the response from the medical staff. So, I know this is just a fear in my head, and an irrational fear, but I can do nothing to control it.
So, when you feel like you have this fear and it is bad, just know that a military officer, who leads over 100 people into stressful and dangerous situations has the same problem as you.

I do not have a solution for this issue, and am not aware of a solution that works. I am starting to try breathing techniques and some relaxing herbs, but too early to tell. I have a medical appointment tomorrow, so I know I have to explain this again.
Well, at least I know there are others who have this problem. Good luck to everyone

Apr 05, 2016
Thanks for your encouraging words
by: Tauqeer

Thanks you Sir for your encouraging words, hope somebody somewhere finds something path breaking which would help us all.

All the best :) and thanks again for your comments.
Tauqeer

Apr 05, 2016
aGree
by: KB801

To finally new:

You are so right on-I led 20 people out the South Tower on 9/11, flames, debris falling, hysterical people, yet even though I knew we were in grave danger, I had a strange calm determination and I GUARANTEE you that my BP was lower then when'd its taken by a doctor. Part of the reason is I had no time to thin about 9/11, so there was no anticipatory thoughts or anxiety, and I had a goal to focus on.

Phobias are strange bed-fellows, and often happen to more intelligent people, so here's to us bright people. Maybe we should start a BP Phob Mensa Group!

Apr 05, 2016
Intelligence
by: Florida11101

Yes, I believe you are correct that highly intelligent people seem to have many anxiety and phobia type issues. It is because we are more aware and in tune to pretty much everything going on around us. I was a gifted child and my son has been identified. I'll wait until he is much older to talk to him about anxiety because if I speak to him about it now....it may give him anxiety!! So, my appointment was rescheduled until tomorrow (by them, not me for once). I am going to try some deep breathing stuff and see if that helps, but I doubt it. Ill go into flight or fight when I see the machine.
You do bring up a good point about remaining calm during 9/11. I think you are correct. You didn't have to think about it, it just happened, so no time for the anxiety to build.

Apr 05, 2016
Wrist Monitor
by: Noreen

Hi, All,

I really enjoyed the last couple of entries, of course for the honesty, and then the idea that extremely intelligent people have phobias, etc. I can agree with that!

The one thing that has helped me was getting a wrist monitor. The one you hold up to your heart. I have gotten success with it. It's less stressful than having something clamp down on your upper arm.

The other helpful idea for me was to "take" your bp, but don't look at the results. Just practice using the machine. It will get better.

Apr 06, 2016
Appointment
by: Florida11101

Well, went to medical today, and same result. BP was like 170/90, so really high. My pulse was through the roof. The minute I walked out the door, I could feel the relief and my blood pressure and pulse drop to normal. So weird. The technician was freaked out and made me make another appointment with the doctor to talk about this. Just what I need, another appointment to check my blood pressure!
HAHA! Anyway, breathing and kava tea did absolutely nothing for me. So, I am thinking about going to a psychiatrist to work on this. Has anyone had success with that or tried that?

Back to Inner Health Studio Home

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Takedown Notice Infringement Search Tool