About Hypertension

Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is a leading cause of death worldwide. It is a significant, growing global healthcare problem affecting over one billion people and is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and death. Risk factors for hypertension include: age, race (blacks affected at higher rate), family history, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, high dietary sodium intake, low dietary potassium and/or vitamin D dietary intake, overconsumption of alcohol, high stress levels, and certain chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea.

There are two types of hypertension, primary, or essential hypertension, and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension develops gradually over a period of years and for most persons affected with this type of hypertension, there is no identifiable cause. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition such as kidney problems, adrenal gland tumors, congenital defects in blood vessels, some prescription medications and illegal drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. This type of hypertension appears more suddenly and causes higher blood pressure than does primary hypertension.

If left unrecognized or untreated, hypertension can result in arteriosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, enlarged heart or kidney damage. Hypertension is treated with diet, exercise, lifestyle modifications and medication.

Refractory (resistant) primary hypertension is a condition characterized by blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 in patients who have failed maximum doses of multi-medication regimens. The cause of refractory hypertension is likely multifactorial, however studies in animals and humans have demonstrated that the sympathetic nervous system and nerves coming to and from the kidneys are important in the pathophysiology and regulation of hypertension. Hyperactivity of the sympathetic nerves adjacent to the renal artery may be a major contributing factor in hypertension.

Catheter-based renal denervation has been developed as an emerging technology for selectively damaging and inactivating the hyperactive sympathetic renal nerves. This treatment modality has resulted in a sustained reduction in blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, over 75 million people in the USA alone have high blood pressure, and the economic costs exceed $50 billion annually. Despite public awareness and the availability of numerous pharmaceutical therapies, only about half of all treated hypertensive patients achieve adequate blood-pressure control. Moreover, between 10 and 20% of the hypertensive population is drug resistant, meaning that compliance to a regimen of several drugs does not result in adequate blood pressure control. There are over 10 million drug resistant hypertension patients in the USA and hundreds of millions worldwide that could benefit from an effective therapy.

For more information on hypertension please visit: The American Heart Association.