Mechanisms and Treatment of Resistant Hypertension


Eduardo Pimenta, MD, 933 19th Street South, Suite 115, Birmingham, AL 35294


Resistant hypertension is defined as blood pressure (BP) that remains uncontrolled in spite of the use of ≥3 antihypertensive medications. Stricter BP goals, higher obesity rates, older age, and increased use of exogenous BP-elevating substances are related to an increasing prevalence of resistant hypertension. The evaluation of patients with resistant hypertension is focused on identifying contributing and secondary causes of hypertension, including hyperaldosteronism, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic kidney disease, renal artery stenosis, and pheochromocytoma. Hyperaldosteronism is now recognized as the most common cause of resistant hypertension, and all patients with resistant hypertension should be screened with a plasma aldosterone/renin ratio even if the serum potassium level is normal. Treatment includes removal of contributing factors, appropriate management of secondary causes, and use of effective multidrug regimens. Recent studies indicate that the addition of spironolactone to standard treatment induces significant BP reduction in most patients with resistant hypertension.