Hypertension is a common medical condition that can generally be controlled with a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Unfortunately, some people have a difficult time getting their blood pressure under control even when taking more than one high blood pressure medication. When blood pressures remain uncontrolled despite taking three or more different anti-hypertensive medications, doctors refer to this condition as resistant hypertension or resistant high blood pressure.
Resistant hypertension may affect as may as one out of four people with high blood pressure and can be a challenge for the patient as well as the patient’s doctor. Fortunately, if you’ve been diagnosed with resistant high blood pressure there steps are you can take to help get your blood pressure under better control, although you should never make changes to your treatment without your doctor’s advice.
One factor to consider when your blood pressures are always elevated is the possibility of white coat hypertension. Some people experience high blood pressure readings when in their doctor’s office that aren’t present when blood pressure is taken at home under less stressful circumstances. It may be beneficial to have your pressures taken outside of your doctor’s office at different times of the day for a few weeks. The equipment to take your blood pressure at home is available at most pharmacies and isn’t overly costly or difficult to use. By keeping a record of your blood pressures obtained at home, your doctor can better determine whether you truly have resistant high blood pressure.
Another issue to consider with resistant high blood pressure are lifestyle factors. Although you may be taking your blood pressure medications as directed, if you’re eating a high sodium diet you may be contributing to the problem. Not only can a high sodium diet elevate blood pressure, it also increases the risk of heart disease. It’s important to read labels at the supermarket and become more aware of how much sodium you’re taking in on a daily basis. Keeping sodium intake under 1500 mg. per day may help to correct the problem of resistant hypertension. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables also helps to lower resistant high blood pressure by providing the body with potassium, an important mineral for blood pressure control. If you’re overweight, losing those excess pounds can help to bring down blood pressure as can daily aerobic exercise.
What is these simple lifestyle changes don’t work? If resistant high blood pressure remains a problem despite lifestyle and medication adjustments made by your doctor, there’s a possibility that an undiagnosed medical problem such as kidney disease is causing blood pressures to remain elevated. Your doctor may want to do additional testing.