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Ask nurse to check doctor's blood pressure reading

It may be best to have a nurse,

It may be best to have a nurse, rather than a doctor, perform your blood pressure test. Credit: iStock

If your doctor takes your blood pressure and you think the reading is too high, you may want to get a second opinion . . . from your doctor's nurse.

Blood pressure readings taken by a doctor are "significantly higher" than when the test is performed on the same patient at the same visit by a nurse, according to an analysis of data funded by the British government. This phenomenon, known as "white coat effect," occurs because patients often feel more stressed and nervous around physicians than the office staff.

Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in England said these "inappropriate" higher readings sometimes tipped patients over the threshold between normal and high blood pressure, leading to medications being prescribed that may have been unnecessary and even potentially dangerous.

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