New treatments for drug resistant high blood pressure

January 22, 2018 by Laura Wright, University of Kentucky
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

High blood pressure – also called hypertension – is a dangerous condition which, if left untreated, can lead to stroke, kidney problems and/or heart attack.

A doctor may diagnose you with hypertension if your systolic (the top number in the measurement) exceeds 130 mmHg, or (the bottom number) exceeds 80 mmHg. Although it's normal to experience minor fluctuations throughout the day, 46 percent of all Americans experience high levels of blood pressure (exceeding 130/80) even without activity or stress. This increases the risk of , stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and even death. This increased risk is compounded in people with diabetes, high cholesterol, or smokers.

Generally, patients with hypertension can help control their high blood pressure by adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising more
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing stress
  • Eating a plant-based, low-salt diet

When lifestyle changes aren't adequate, prescription drugs can be used separately or in combination to reduce hypertension. However, according to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all Americans find that lifestyle changes and medications don't work well enough.

If you are one of these people, there are two new therapies being tested that might help.

The SPYRAL trial is testing a new therapy that targets the nerves in the kidney responsible for signaling to the brain and playing a role in raising blood pressure. During the procedure, a small opening is made in the groin to access blood vessels in the kidney using a flexible tube called a catheter. A special device is then used to alter these nerves surrounding the kidney artery and reduce the signals they send to the brain. Recent research indicates that this therapy, called renal denervation, reduced blood pressure an average of 10 points – a significant change.

The CALM trial targets another area responsible for regulating blood pressure present in the main artery in the neck, the carotid artery. Microscopic "sensors" in the wall of the carotid artery sense and signal to the brain to respond if that level gets too high. In this case, a catheter is positioned in the and a tiny device is inserted where these sensors are to manipulate the signals to the brain, resulting in lower blood pressure.

Because it has no obvious symptoms, hypertension is known as the "silent killer." The best first step is to know your and work with your doctor to control if necessary. If you've exhausted all other options, talk with your doctor about clinical trials such as these that may contribute to better control of your hypertension.

Explore further: Blood pressure: know your numbers

Related Stories

Blood pressure: know your numbers

April 18, 2017
(HealthDay)—Having high blood pressure makes you more likely to have heart disease or a stroke. But because high blood pressure doesn't usually cause warning symptoms, you could be at risk without even knowing it.

Low sodium-DASH diet combination dramatically lowers blood pressure in hypertensive adults

November 13, 2017
A combination of reduced sodium intake and the DASH diet lowers blood pressure in adults with hypertension, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017, a premier ...

High blood pressure is redefined as 130, not 140: US guidelines (Update)

November 14, 2017
High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80 mm Hg, not the previous limit of 140/90.

Renal denervation lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients not taking medication

August 28, 2017
Renal denervation lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients not taking medication, according to late-breaking results from the SPYRAL HTN-OFF MED study presented today in a Hot Line LBCT Session at ESC Congress and published ...

Extreme swings in blood pressure are just as deadly as having consistently high blood pressure

November 9, 2017
Extreme ups and downs in systolic blood pressure may be just as deadly as having consistently high blood pressure, according to a new study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

World-first hypertension treatment a success

August 31, 2017
Researchers at The University of Western Australia have taken a step forward in the fight against high blood pressure after the first human trials of a ground-breaking treatment produced successful results.

Recommended for you

As body mass index increases, blood pressure may as well

August 17, 2018
Body mass index is positively associated with blood pressure, according to the ongoing study of 1.7 million Chinese men and women being conducted by researchers at the Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) ...

Gout could increase heart disease risk

August 17, 2018
Having a type of inflammatory arthritis called gout may worsen heart-related outcomes for people being treated for coronary artery disease, according to new research.

Stroke patients treated at a teaching hospital are less likely to be readmitted

August 17, 2018
Stroke patients appear to receive better care at teaching hospitals with less of a chance of landing back in a hospital during the early stages of recovery, according to new research from The University of Texas Health Science ...

Cardiovascular disease related to type 2 diabetes can be reduced significantly

August 16, 2018
Properly composed treatment and refraining from cigarette consumption can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease resulting from type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the New England Journal of ...

Genomic autopsy can help solve unexplained cardiac death

August 15, 2018
Molecular autopsies can reveal genetic risk factors in young people who unexpectedly die, but proper interpretation of the results can be challenging, according to a recent study published in Circulation.

Neonatal pig hearts can heal from heart attack

August 15, 2018
While pigs still cannot fly, researchers have discovered that the hearts of newborn piglets do have one remarkable ability. They can almost completely heal themselves after experimental heart attacks.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.