Many of us are stressed out lately, and spikes of anxiety can cause some people’s blood pressure to rise when a doctor is examining them, a phenomenon known as the “white coat effect.” But new studies show that there is ALSO a “reverse white coat effect”?where some people’s blood pressure goes DOWN in a doctor’s office.

9% of patients show signs of white coat hypertension, which could cause doctors to prescribe unneeded medication and potentially lower their blood pressure to dangerous levels. Some people think doctors shouldn’t be taking blood pressure readings at all. Researcher Gbenga Ogedegbe says, “Automated devices should be doing it [instead].”

But the effect shouldn’t be dismissed?people who show it have a slightly elevated risk of having a heart attack six to nine years later. Ogedegbe says, “We need to find out why it is there to understand why people have this effect.”

There are still some strange medical conditions that baffle physicians. One of these is the mystery of the “reverse white-coat effect.” Blood pressure levels actually dip in 19% of the patients when doctors measure it. “We don?t know what to do with these people,” Ogedegbe says.

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