Q. What is white coat syndrome?

A. If you suffer from white coat syndrome, your blood pressure jumps as soon as a doctor or nurse approaches you. If your doctor knows this, he or she may recommend a home blood-pressure monitor or ambulatory monitor that is worn around the clock and takes your pressure every half hour.

Blood pressure tends to spike when you are excited by an emotion such as anger or fear. But high blood pressure — known as hypertension — is very sneaky. It’s called the silent killer, because it usually has no symptoms.

Doctors say you have high blood pressure if you have a reading of 140/90 or higher. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 or lower is considered normal. Prehypertension is blood pressure between 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number.

The first number represents your systolic pressure when the heart beats. The second number represents the diastolic pressure when the heart rests. If only one number is elevated, you still have high blood pressure with all of its dangers.

When you go to your doctor to have your blood pressure taken, there are a few things you can do to get an accurate reading. First, don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes for a half hour before your pressure is taken. (What are you doing smoking anyway?). Empty your bladder, because a full tank can affect the reading. Sit quietly for five minutes before the test.

Q. How can I eat healthier?

A. To maintain a plan for healthy eating, follow these tips from the National Institutes of Health:

Eat breakfast every day.

Select high-fiber foods like whole grain breads and cereals, beans, vegetables, and fruits. They can help keep you regular and lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Choose lean beef, turkey breast, fish, or chicken with the skin removed to lower the amount of fat and calories in your meals.

Have three servings of low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese a day. Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D and help keep your bones strong as you age. If you have trouble digesting or do not like dairy products, try reduced-lactose milk products, or calcium-fortified orange juice, soy-based beverages, or tofu. You can also talk to your health care provider about taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Keep nutrient-rich snacks like dried apricots, whole wheat crackers and peanut butter on hand. Limit snacks like cake, candy, chips, and soda.

Drink plenty of water.

Q. What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?

A. If you have diabetes, your body can’t produce insulin or use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps control the sugar in your blood. Insulin is made by the pancreas, a large organ behind the stomach.

A small percentage of diabetics have type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in people under age 30. Diabetics with this form of the disease can not produce insulin.

About 90 percent of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It is most common in adults over age 40, and the risk of getting it increases with age. With this form of diabetes, the body does not always produce enough insulin or does not use insulin efficiently. Being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in people who are at an increased risk or have pre-diabetes, a condition in which glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes within 10 years and are also more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Cicetti is a health care writer with 50 years of journalistic experience.

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