If you have recently visited your doctor and have been told by them that your blood pressure is high, you could have cardiovascular problems – or you may simply just be scared of doctors and prefer a nurse to take your readings.

A nurse takes blood pressure readings

Another study into blood pressure measurement has found that readings taken by a doctor are often higher than those recorded by nurses and even more so when the readings are taken in a more relaxed environment such as the home. The phenomenon has been previously suggested, and termed the “white coat effect”, but this is the first comprehensive analysis of all available data.

The report, published in the British Journal of General Practice, says the difference found by looking at past studies was significant enough that it could affect the treatment options offered to patients. “Doctors should continue to measure blood pressure as part of the assessment of an ill patient or a routine check-up,” advised Dr Christopher Clark, from the University of Exeter, “but not where clinical decisions on blood pressure treatment depend on the outcome.”

“The difference we noted is enough to tip some patients over the threshold for treatment for high blood pressure, and unnecessary medication can lead to unwanted side-effects. Some patients may be erroneously asked to continue to monitor their own blood pressure at home, which can build anxiety. These inappropriate measures could all be avoided by the simple measure of someone other than a doctor taking the blood pressure recording.”

Media health doctor Mark Porter commented in the Times:

I guess that’s why it is known as white coat hypertension 😉 – not that doctors wear white coats any more.

Best option is to take your own readings with a blood pressure monitor at home, 2 – 3 times a day over a week and average out the readings. Sit quietly for a few minutes first and if your BP bounces around a lot, record the lower of two readings each time.

Anything under 135/ 80 – 85 is good for a home reading for anyone under the age of 80 (we use higher thresholds in the surgery and for some older people)

If all is well, put the BP machine away for at least 6 months. Watching your BP has a nasty habit of increasing it.


The Pasty: great British food.

There has been a bit of confusing lately about what a Pastie or Pasty actually is. A writer from the New York Times had never had a pasty and attempted to correct The Economist when they referred to them. He thought that ‘Cornish Pasties’ was a misspelling of ‘Cornish Pastries’ and didn’t think to check his facts before ridiculing them on his blog. In an attempt to highlight his foolishness The Economist sent him an American approximation of a pasty which quite frankly looks disgusting – see below.


Luckily I am not an American, I’m from Devon (not far from the home of the pasty, Cornwall) so I know a good pasty when I see one. Originally pasties were eaten by Coal Miners and were half savoury, half sweet. The pastry crust was originally meant to be thrown away (think of it as an early type of Tupperware). A true Cornish Pasty should be made from steak, potato, swede and anything else lying around.

According to a comment thread on Reddit some areas of American where Cornish immigrants settled still eat traditional pasties. Wikipedia suggests “Parts of Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the Iron Range of northern Minnesota” are all keen on this food of the gods.

A Google image search for ‘Pasties’ suggests that Americans (always ready to lower the tone) use the word to refer to nipple coverings. Perhaps somebody should inform Pasty Muncher about this. A quick search of a few job sites shows no vacancies for either Pasty tasters or Pastie appliers which is unfortunate. Either way, I know what I’m having for lunch today!

This is very funny, but far too true…

Ireland features many lively festivals throughout the year, and here are a few of the most popular.

If you are planning on travelling to Ireland, why not plan your visit so that you can attend an exciting festival? There are literally hundreds of festivals happening in Ireland all throughout the year. From small local county fairs to huge celebrations in Dublin, you will have lots of choice when it comes to partying the night away. Here are a few of the most popular events throughout the country:

The Galway Arts Festival

This annual arts festival happens every July in Galway and is the leading arts festival in Ireland. Performers from all over Ireland as well as international performers from all over the world come to showcase their creative talent to more than 150,000 guests each year. Artists, Writers, Poets, Musicians, Comedians, and Buskers come together to fill the city with art and song.

Past musical performers at this festival have included Joni Mitchell, Blondie, David Gray, and Philip Glass, and theatre companies such as The Royal Court Theatre, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, and The Stephen Petronio Dance Company have showcased their productions here. If you are looking to gorge on art and culture, this festival offers up a gourmet all-you-can-eat buffet of fine artistic performances.

Saint Patrick’s Day: Sky Fest

Of course, when talking about Festivals in Ireland we cannot forget Saint Patrick’s Day! This famous Irish national holiday is celebrated on March 17th, and commemorates the patron saint of Ireland. Skyfest is an enormous fireworks display that forms the centrepiece of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland, and is usually held on the Saturday before or after the holiday. Thousands of people flock to watch these fireworks, and enjoy the live Irish folk music.

No matter where you are in Ireland during St. Patrick’s Day you are sure to find carnivals, live music, dance performances, and all sorts of other celebrations to enjoy.

Cork Jazz Festival

If you are a fan of the groovy sounds of jazz music, this festival will have you snapping your fingers in appreciation. In the city of Cork, Ireland the annual Jazz Festival is held every year in late October. This event is considered one of the top three Jazz Festivals around the world, and features more than 1,000 different jazz musicians. You can choose from many performances in clubs, pubs and concert halls all over the city.

The Festival of World Cultures

Held at the end of July in Dun Laoghaire Town, this three day celebration includes enormous banquets of food and live music from all over the world. Enjoy the Feast Americana which recreates the atmosphere of an American country fair, and the Global Village featuring food and displays from many different countries. Watch the traditional performances at the World Dance Plaza and enjoy the displays of South Asian Arts. This family friendly festival is a great way to feel like you have travelled around the world in one night!

What are you waiting for? Join in the fun!

This looks amazingburgers doesn’t it? Bane is a pretty hardcore Batman villain, and if the previous two episodes of this incarnation of Batman are anything to go by this will be one of the standout films of 2012.