You still have options when your blood pressure can't be controlled.
One-third of all Americans have hypertension (high blood pressure), and most don't have it under control. For many people, it's because they don't know they have the condition, they skip their medications, or they haven't yet found a medication regimen that works. But millions of people are unable to control their blood pressure even when they're taking several medications for it. That's called resistant hypertension.
About blood pressure
Hypertension occurs when the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls is constantly too high. It injures the vessel walls, forces your heart to work harder, and increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and early death.
When three or more medications don't control it, hypertension is considered resistant. "The most common causes of this are people who don't adhere to their prescribed medications or who eat too much salt," says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School
A portion of resistant hypertension results from underlying conditions, such as sleep apnea or severely narrowed kidney arteries. Treating these conditions can sometimes cure high blood pressure.
Further adjustment of medicines may get the blood pressure under control. But if it doesn't, a new procedure called renal denervation may eventually offer another option. It's available in Europe and still under investigation in the United States. Initial studies indicate that it is both safe and effective. A thin plastic catheter is placed into the arteries that supply blood to the two kidneys. "RadioÂfrequency energy is applied through a catheter to âzap' the nerves around the kidney arteries that in part contribute to elevated blood pressure. This usually results in blood pressure reduction," says Dr. Bhatt, who's leading a clinical trial to provide more definitive evidence.
What you can do
A powerful way to lower blood pressure is with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. There's also a dietary component to lowering blood pressure. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet features more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; foods with nutrients known to help reduce blood pressure such as calcium
, potassium, and magnesium; and reduced intake of sodium and saturated fat. In addition, you can stop smoking, limit alcohol, and manage stress better.