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Categories > Heart Health > Blood pressure

Persistent pressure
Lower your levels

Danger zone
Danger zone

If you don’t get resistant hypertension under control, you risk the following health complications:

  • thickening and hardening of the arteries, which could lead to heart attack or stroke—even death
  • heart failure
  • aneurysm
  • stroke
  • kidney damage
  • vision loss
  • metabolic syndrome
  • trouble remembering and understanding concepts

Just can’t drop your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg? If you’ve made lifestyle changes and are taking three or more medications to no avail, you may have resistant hypertension, or high blood pressure that won’t budge. As with regular hypertension, most people don’t feel anything until the condition reaches advanced stages. Then they might experience dull headaches, dizziness and nosebleeds.

Resistant hypertension is diagnosed more often in older people, African-Americans and women. Being obese, having a high baseline blood pressure and consuming excessive salt increase the risk, as does having chronic kidney disease, diabetes or an enlarged left heart ventricle.

Some cases can be attributed to the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, as well as decongestants, excessive alcohol, natural licorice (not the candy but an ingredient in some tobacco products), some diet pills, ephedra and some stimulants and prescription steroids. Sometimes, you can chase away resistant hypertension by eliminating use of these products, taking medicine and making lifestyle changes.

Lower your levels

Talk with your healthcare provider if you’ve got stubbornly high blood pressure. Ask about taking these steps:

  • Move one or more hypertension medications to bedtime, which can improve blood pressure control.
  • Monitor your blood pressure at home.
  • Lose weight.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Skip salt, cut back on saturated fat and limit alcoholic drinks. Load up on foods containing fiber, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
  • If you have obstructive sleep apnea, treat it.
  • See a hypertension specialist.