GP observation

This is a scheduled period of observation in which your GP measures your blood pressure at regular intervals to see if it is at a consistently high level.

Your GP will not confirm a diagnosis of high blood pressure from just the one reading. He or she will carry out further readings but at set times in order to see if your blood pressure is still high.

The reason for this is that it is very difficult to confirm a diagnosis from a single measurement. Your blood pressure may have been high during that check, for a variety of reasons which include ‘white coat hypertension, caffeine, lack of sleep and stress.

If you have exercised before this check then you will find that your blood pressure will be raised which will be expressed in the reading. Exercise does cause a temporary rise in blood pressure but regular exercise helps to lower it in the long term.

The length of this observation period will depend upon various factors which include the first reading and if you have any medical problems or lifestyle issues.

But these readings will be taken more often if you have diabetes or have suffered a heart attack or stroke.

If you make any lifestyle changes during this period then this may be reflected during the readings. If, for example you stop smoking, take more exercise or reduce your salt intake then these can all help to lower your blood pressure.

But if these readings stay the same throughout the observation period then your GP will discuss a suitable treatment plan with you. Find out more about this in our treating high blood pressure section.

If you are one of those people who find that they become anxious when undergoing a blood pressure check at your GP’s surgery then there is the option of checking your blood pressure at home.

Find out more in the next section.

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