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Ask Dr. Gott 3/31

White-coat syndrome hurts job prospects

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Posted: March 30, 2007 2:35 p.m.
Updated: April 14, 2007 5:00 a.m.
DEAR DR. GOTT: Although I'm basically in good health as I near 63, I have a problem that is quite common. It's called white-coat syndrome, or white-coat hypertension. Of course, I believe there is no health risk with this psychological problem, but after losing my job over a year ago and also losing my marketable skills to computers, I lost out on two decent jobs that required physicals -- all due to high blood-pressure readings.
    At one time, when it was thought that I had hypertension, I was put on atenolol, which brought my pressure to readings in the area of 90/59. I have my own monitor at home. So, after some time with low readings, I returned to a clinic that specializes in DOT physicals, only to be rejected again for high readings while on my medication. I had my monitor checked out, and it was right on the mark. I realized then that it was the pressure not to fail that was causing my pressure to rise. I often give blood to the Red Cross and usually have good readings when they take my pressure.
    I recently read an article on hypertension in pets. Dogs and cats can also have white-coat hypertension, so it is suggested to leave them at the clinic for four or five hours to let them relax, while a human, trying to earn a living, is given only a few minutes to get the pressure down. That's even after explaining I have white-coat syndrome.
    So, here is my question. Is there any anti-anxiety medication a person can take while going for a physical that would be beneficial for a blood-pressure screening? I don't take any other medications now. My average pressure is 120/80. I am 5 feet 5 inches and 150 pounds. Thank you for any advice you can give.
    DEAR READER: Have your doctor provide you with a written verification that the atenolol has reduced your blood pressure to the acceptable range. Submit the affirmation to the company and reap the benefits. You don't need to use anti-anxiety drugs. If the insurance company refuses to process this claim, insist on receiving written notification from various resources that confirms your diagnosis of white-coat syndrome. You do not -- repeat, do not -- require doggie treats to solve this problem.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a free copy of my Health Report "Hypertension." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title.

DEAR DR. GOTT: In your response to the woman whose 60-year-old son lost his appetite due to pancreatic-cancer treatment, why didn't you speak up for the appetite-enhancing effects of marijuana?
DEAR READER: I agree that marijuana should be legally available to cancer patients because it can certainly improve quality-of-life issues.
    Unfortunately, the drug is not generally available. I anticipate that some readers will assume an opposite view, but I believe that marijuana use, under certain circumstances, is entirely appropriate.

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