Whenever I get my blood pressure checked, whether by machine or person, I become extremely stressed. My heart rate then increases quite a bit into the hundreds, usually around 110-120 (my normal is 55-60) and I get a high blood pressure reading, up to 170/70.

Can blood pressure increase from being stressed?

  • Hello and welcome to Health.SE! We strive for this site to be a question and answer site for general health information - your basic question is a good one! I am going to edit the post to take out some of the more personal details that could distract from it, though. Again, welcome to the site, and good question!
    – YviDe
    Dec 16, 2015 at 10:22

3 Answers 3


tl; dr - The answer is yes, clinically you can react to having your blood pressure (BP) taken by having an abnormally high reading.

What you are describing is called "white coat syndrome" or "white coat hypertension". However, from what I've found, it's not often accompanied by tachycardia (Increased heart rate). I did find a good discussion on this, and some of the ways that they determined if a person had WCH or true hypertension in this article from the AHA. It discusses the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring over clinical monitoring.

I would encourage you to try to find some way to get a true blood pressure reading, as if you are truly hypertensive, the morbidity factors increase, and there are medications that can help reduce it.


My understanding is that psychological stress is known to have short term (transient) effects on raising blood pressure, but there's less evidence that psychological stress is a risk factor for hypertension (high blood pressure for a long period of time).

Here's a meta-study of other studies:

Acute stress promotes transient elevation of blood pressure, but there is no consistent evidence that this effect results in hypertension. http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v23/n1/abs/jhh200874a.html

As @JohnP says, doctor's office blood pressure is known to be a suboptimal test of hypertension. Its a single sample, and also it may show up higher (as in the case of the White Coat Effect), or lower (as in the case of Masked Hypertension) than normal. Better determinations of hypertension can made by either wearing an "ambulatory blood pressure" cuff for 24h, or by making many readings with a home BP monitor (in which case your must carefully follow the instructions, be sitting, rested and keep you arm at the correct height). Bear in mind however, that readings from ambulatory and home BP devices are not directly comparable to the same BP values seems in your doctor's office. Different values correspond to the same risk (lower BP values are generally used to determine hypertension when the readings are made out of the doctor's office).

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In the above image, "home" is the sitting self test, 24h is the "ambulatory" (while active) average, and nighttime and daytime are the averages of the ambulatory monitor when when asleep/awake. Its important to know there's generally (very!) large difference in risk between the same home and office readings.

The fact that your BP returns to truly excellent levels may a good indicator in that your body is reacting appropriately to demands. That said, if you have prolonged high BP (due to stress or otherwise), you should be concerned.


Of course. Just to expand a bit on why...psychological stress causes activation of an adrenal (fight or flight) response, which translates to increased release of adrenaline (epinephrine), and other circulating hormones. It's that "rush" you feel in your belly when you get stressed, surprised or shocked (which is where your adrenal glands are, anyway). Physiologically, adrenaline and other hormones directly induce faster pulse, and stronger heart squeeze, which of course translates to a higher blood pressure.

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    – Lucky
    Jan 8, 2017 at 22:32

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