Hello! Welcome to my blog! My name is Isabella Bolon and I am a senior at BASIS Independent Brooklyn. My senior project will focus on white coat hypertension and the possibility of remediating it with neurohacking.
White coat hypertension (WCH) is a cardiac condition in which blood pressure levels are measured to be higher in medical settings than at home. It is thought that WCH is caused by stress and anxiety related to specific medical settings, and not a true reflection of a heart condition. WCH is present in 10-20 percent of all patients who have undergone blood pressure measurements in a medical office. These patients have a “three- to fourfold increased risk of developing sustained hypertension… compared with normotensive patients” (Cohen, 2022). I think it is important to note that most of the data collected to contribute to this statistic pertain only to male patients. Female patients may have different reasons for developing WCH (other than just doctor anxiety), such as the fear associated with having a male physician. This is concerning because having untreated WCH leads to a “36 percent increased risk of heart disease, 33 percent increased risk of death and 109 percent increased risk of death from heart disease”, according to Penn Medicine News. Neurohacking, which are cognitive techniques such as listening to calming music, meditating, and expressing gratitude to alter thinking patterns and perceptions of stimuli, has been previously found to reduce systolic blood pressure (Al Mir, et. al., 2021). Developing and applying these simple practices in physician offices to ease patient anxiety may be life-changing for patients, as well as highly significant to the future of medical care.
My research questions are: How can white coat hypertension, a stress-related condition that results in a patient’s blood pressure elevating specifically in medical settings, be prevented? Could easy in-office neurohacking practices such as expressing gratitude and listening to relaxing music helps restore blood pressure to its normal, at-home, anxiety-free readings in medical offices? And to what level do additional factors such as the age of the patient or gender of the doctor exaggerate white coat hypertension?
You may access my full proposal here!
Cohen, Jordana, et. al, “White Coat and Masked Hypertension”, UpToDate, July 11, 2022.
Mir, I. A., Chowdhury, M., Islam, R. M., Ling, G. Y., Chowdhury, A. A. B. M., Hasan, Z. M., & Higashi, Y. (2020). Relaxing music reduces blood pressure and heart rate among pre‐hypertensive young adults: A randomized control trial. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 23(2), 317–322. https://doi.org/10.1111/jch.14126