Twenty percent to 30 percent of people with high blood pressure are drug-resistant: They can't (or don't) control their heart-harmful condition even with multiple medications and lifestyle changes. But a new discovery may do more to rearrange their numbers than Einstein at a blackboard filled with equations.
Turns out, if you deactivate certain nerves that control contraction and dilation of blood vessels in the kidney, it lowers blood pressure instantly. Using radio waves to zap the nerves of 106 patients, research showed big improvements in BP with no substantial complications. Then, last August, the Food and Drug Administration approved SYMPLICITY HTN-3, a phase-3 clinical trial of 530 people with treatment-resistant hypertension. If results are consistent with the earlier study, we may have a new therapy that reduces the most stubborn of numbers.
In the meantime, if you're struggling to lower your blood pressure (we like to see people achieve 115/75), here's a tough question: Are you really following your prescribed medication regimen and upgrading your lifestyle habits? About 50 percent of the people with chronic health problems (hypertension included) don't take their medications either at all or as prescribed. And many people don't adopt healthy habits like walking 10,000 steps a day and avoiding the five food felons: trans and saturated fats, any grain but 100 percent whole grains, added sugars and sugar syrups.
Even if there's a way to zap persistently high blood pressure, you still need to upgrade your daily habits to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, impotence, wrinkling, and dementia — all associated with hypertension.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.