High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition which affects approximately 68 million adults in the United States alone.
Since this equates to about one-third of the adult population, chances are that you’ll either be personally affected by high blood pressure or know someone with the condition.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of both heart attack -- the number one killer in the US -- and stroke, which is the third leading cause of death.
Because high blood pressure may lead to potentially life-threatening conditions, it’s important to take steps to manage and control blood pressure levels. Frequently, blood pressure levels can be controlled by lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and engaging in physical activity.
Smokers are advised to stop smoking to help manage blood pressure levels. A healthy, low-sodium diet such as the DASH -- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension -- diet is recommended for people with high blood pressure.
In addition, it’s also important to take steps to prevent and treat diabetes.
When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your physician may recommend medications to help control unhealthy blood pressure levels.
Medications may include drugs such as diuretics, also known as water pills, to ensure that your body eliminates excess water and salt.
Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, as well as calcium channel blockers, renin inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers are also sometimes prescribed to help lower and control high blood pressure levels.
It may be necessary to take one or more of these medications to control high blood pressure levels.
Sometimes, despite lifestyle changes and medications, blood pressure may continue to remain high. If you’re taking at least three blood pressure medications and your blood pressure still remains uncontrolled, then you may have a form of high blood pressure referred to as resistant hypertension.
Any time a person is diagnosed with resistant hypertension, it’s important to take steps to bring blood pressure under control. This may include changing medications, adjusting dosages, examining other medications taken, including supplements, along with types of foods consumed.
According to the results of one study, insomnia may be a contributing factor for resistant hypertension. In a study funded by the University of Pisa, researchers examined the sleeping patterns of 234 participants.
Researchers found that participants who slept less than six hours daily were twice as likely to have resistant hypertension as participants who reported adequate sleep.
In addition, researchers noted that women generally reported a poorer quality of sleep than male participants.
While the study was limited and more research is needed, it suggests that simply getting enough sleep may be a new tool which can be used to treat resistant hypertension.
American Heart Association (2012, September 21). Relation of poor sleep quality to resistant hypertension. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Treatments and drugs. The Mayo Clinic. 03 Aug 2012.
High Blood Pressure Frequently Asked Questions. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions. 13 Mar 2012.
Reviewed October 2, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith