The study involved a small group of patients referred to specialists because their blood pressure was not being controlled.
Researchers originally conducted the study to see if they could lower blood pressure for people with resistant hypertension (high blood pressure that continues despite taking three or more medications) through renal denervation, in addition to their blood pressure medication. Renal denervation is a treatment in which radio waves or ultrasound destroy nerves between the brain and kidney.
The researchers studied 95 patients that received the treatment and 44 who only took their blood pressure medication. The findings, published March 6 in the journal Hypertension, showed that for the patients with hypertension, the treatment was about as effective as taking the normally prescribed blood pressure medication. In addition, the researchers found that only 20 percent of patients were taking all of their medication and 20 percent were not taking any of their medication.
“Adherence to medication greatly affects the ability to assess the value of another treatment, so researchers need to measure adherence and do what they can to improve it,” said lead study author Dr. Peter Blankestijn. “People mistakenly thought to have resistant hypertension – which is high blood pressure despite taking three or more medications – end up seeing specialists and undergoing extra tests because we don’t understand why they are so difficult to treat.”