How to Overcome Fear of Taking Blood Pressure?


Are you afraid of taking your blood pressure? You are not alone; many people have this problem.

Before we move deep into the topic, what exactly is the normal range for blood pressure? Blood pressure is commonly expressed as “systolic pressure over diastolic pressure”, e.g. “120 over 80” or “120/80”. Regular systolic blood pressure is measured at 120 mmHg and appears as the upper reading on a digital blood pressure monitor. Systolic blood pressure corresponds to when our heart contracts to push the blood out of it into the body. Diastolic blood pressure, where the heart relaxes, is measured at 80 mmHg and is shown as the lower reading on a digital blood pressure monitor.

A lot of people feel stress while taking their blood pressure readings at home. The situation often worsens when they visit any medical facility for their check-up. Any blood pressure reading consistently measured as equal to or more than 135mmHg/85 mmHg at home should be considered as hypertension (high blood pressure), and a doctor should be consulted. Any reading in the range of 130-139 mmHg and 85-89 mmHg are indications of prehypertension.

What is White Coat Syndrome?

Taking blood pressure at any medical facility can cause nervousness and intense anxiety, which can cause an occasional rise in blood pressure. This is known as the  ‘white coat syndrome’ (WCS). WCS is not in itself hypertension, but can be an indicator for becoming hypertensive in the future as reported by this study.2 WCS may correspond to other cardiovascular complications including stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.

Mentioning the adverse outcomes of WCS here is not meant to make you more afraid but to make you more aware of how you can overcome the fear of taking blood pressure.

Masked hypertension 

Sometimes, people get a normal blood pressure reading at home or in the doctor's office, but a high reading when they are out and about. This could be an indication of a condition known as masked hypertension. 

Causes of WCS

Intense anxiety and nervousness are the main causes of fear of taking blood pressure. Ultimately, an anxious person's blood pressure reading is higher compared to a non-phobic person. Research 4 has found that intense anxiety causes hypertension.

Other main factors that cause fear of taking blood pressure may include an emergency, work, or fear of visiting a medical facility or office. 

Should I worry about a fear of taking blood pressure?

The fear of taking blood pressure can be considered a health condition if it is affecting one's life or preventing them from keeping track of their health, and should be taken seriously, to avoid any masked undesirable outcomes like cardiovascular disease. 

If this is the case with yourself or a loved one, speak to your GP regarding this fear or contact a counsellor to be able to work through the issue.

Overcoming White Coat Syndrome


When you reach a doctor’s or nurse’s office, take time to relax and drink some water. It will help you to calm down and make you more relaxed. 

Request a quiet room

Often, the medical office can be crowded with people, and this may give rise to an incorrect blood pressure reading. To overcome this situation, you can request a quiet or less crowded area to get precise blood pressure measurement. 

Divert your mind

Sometimes, thinking about the blood pressure reading itself can make you more stressed, so try to divert your mind by thinking about other topics, or if you have someone with you, talk about other things to take your mind off of the test itself.

Practice stress relief techniques (eg. 4-7-8 breathing)

Take a pause to deeply inhale and slowly exhale. It will help reduce stress. Stress-reducing breathing techniques work in the following pattern:

  • Exhale completely to empty the lungs 
  • Inhale air for 4 seconds through the nose
  • Hold in the lungs for 7 seconds
  • Exhale slowly through the mouth over 8 seconds.

This technique is known as the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This method has little medical research behind it, but has anecdotal proof from a medical setting. If someone cannot hold their breath for such a long period, they can practice the following rhythm:

  • Exhale the air from lungs to evacuate it 
  • Inhale for 2 seconds through the nose 
  • Wait for 3.5 seconds by holding the breath in lungs 
  • Now, exhale from the mouth in 4 seconds.

Drink a glass of water

You may take a glass of cool water to feel calmer and more comfortable. 

Take a brisk 15-20 minute walk

According to Journal of Psychosomatic Research, brisk walking contributes to reduction of stress.5 A brisk walk reduces the cortisol levels which helps reduce stress. 

Checking Blood Pressure at Home

Patients can check their own blood pressure at home in a more relaxed and comfortable environment and get a more reliable reading. It is suggested that proper professional guidance should be used to check precise readings. An automatic blood pressure reader is suggested to measure blood pressure from your upper arm. Wrist or finger blood pressure machines are usually not recommended. 

Tips for taking blood pressure at home 

Several methods can be used to get an appropriate blood pressure reading while checking at home. These strategies may involve bio-parameters or behavioural  adaptations. 

Work with your circadian rhythm

According to a study, diurnal blood pressure is affected by the circadian rhythm, meaning that blood pressure is higher all day and lower at night.6 Higher blood pressure is observed in the morning as well. Blood pressure is also superimposed upon external triggers and the sleep/work cycle. Timing is important when checking your blood pressure. For example, if you work the whole night, and want to sleep in the morning, your blood pressure would be lower in the morning due to rhythmic bio-parameters. 

Take it at the same time every day

It is recommended by doctors to take blood pressure readings at the same time of day each time. Take a note of each blood pressure reading so that you can tell your doctor if needed. Today, many automatic blood pressure devices are available where you can save your blood pressure readings. 

Average your readings 

Doctors suggest their patients take 2 to 3 readings and average them to get single reliable reading. 

Contacting your doctor

Occasional high or low blood pressure does not mean you are in an emergency and should see the doctor. However, if you have irregular heartbeat, heavy breathing, blurry vision, severe headache or dizziness, then you should contact your doctor.


It is critical to get your blood pressure to track your current health situation. Blood pressure reading allows your health care provider to evaluate your medical treatment. Overcoming the fear of taking your blood pressure reading will help you to get more accurate measurements. You will also probably have less chances of getting hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases associated with fear of checking blood pressure. You can use different strategies to release stress and get reliable blood pressure readings. You can use automatic blood pressure readers to track your blood pressure for health status checks or specific medication therapy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to get my blood pressure checked? 

Even if you feel healthy, it is necessary to get your blood pressure monitored. This is to keep an eye on your current health. 

What should be the frequency of blood pressure monitoring?

It depends upon your lifestyle, age, and current health status. People between 18 to 40 years old are less likely to get high blood pressure. You can go every 3 to 5 years for screenings, or if you are not sure then you can book an appointment with your GP and get a follow up.


  1. What is blood pressure? [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Jun 27]. Available from:
  2. Tientcheu D, Ayers C, Das SR, McGuire DK, Lemos JA de, Khera A, et al. Target Organ Complications and Cardiovascular Events Associated With Masked Hypertension and White-Coat Hypertension: Analysis From the Dallas Heart Study. Journal of the American College of Cardiology [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2022 Jun 27]; 66(20):2159–69. Available from:
  3. Mancia G, Facchetti R, Grassi G, Bombelli M. Adverse Prognostic Value of Persistent Office Blood Pressure Elevation in White Coat Hypertension. Hypertension [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2022 Jun 27]; 66(2):437–44. Available from:
  4. Mucci N, Giorgi G, De Pasquale Ceratti S, Fiz-Pérez J, Mucci F, Arcangeli G. Anxiety, Stress-Related Factors, and Blood Pressure in Young Adults. Front Psychol [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 Jun 27]; 7:1682. Available from:
  5. Jin P. Efficacy of Tai Chi, brisk walking, meditation, and reading in reducing mental and emotional stress. Journal of Psychosomatic Research [Internet]. 1992 [cited 2022 Jun 27]; 36(4):361–70. Available from:
  6. Baumgart P. Circadian Rhythm of Blood Pressure: Internal and External Time Triggers. Chronobiology International [Internet]. 1991 [cited 2022 Jun 27]; 8(6):444–50. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Muhammad Mohsin

Master's degree - MSc Medical Bioscience, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland
Muhammad is an Ex. Hospital Pharmacist at Aga Khan University Hospital.

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