One of the major causes of heart attacks and strokes, high blood pressure is on the watch list for anyone who worries about their health or has had a bad medical check up.
But a recent therapy being used in Australia to treat people with drug-resistant high blood pressure has been proven to be ineffective in a major US clinical trial.
The experimental therapy – called renal denervation — involves deactivating the kidney’s nerves by inserting a catheter and delivering radioactive frequency. It was being used in Canada, Australia and parts of Europe to treat those resistant to blood pressure lowering medications.
A major clinical trial in the US showed that despite being used in 80 countries, the therapy had no significant effects in lowering patients’ blood pressure.
“This is the first blinded trial or sham controlled trial in the field of renal denervation,” said Deepak Bhatt, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and co-principal investigator.
“We saw no added treatment benefit of renal denervation for patients with severe resistant hypertension who were closely monitored and optimally treated with medications.”
About 10 per cent of people with high blood pressure are resistant to blood pressure medication.
High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a blood pressure reading of at least 140/90 mmHg – putting those affected at risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and many other serious medical problems.
Whilst medication can be effective in lowering blood pressure, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can help lower your blood pressure,
1. Lose weight
The Heart Foundation (Australia) advises to check your weight in reference to your BMI and aim to fit within a healthy weight category. A weight loss of around 10 per cent of your body weight is enough to make a difference to your blood pressure reading.
Measuring your weight circumference is also important indicator of heart health. According to Australian Government guidelines ‘a waist measurement of greater than 94cm for men or 80cm for women is an indicator of internal fat deposits, which can coat the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas, and increase the risk of chronic disease.’
2. Reduce salt
Eating too much salt is one of the main causes of high blood pressure. Even if you don’t add salt to your food, excess salt can be found in processed foods, cereals, fast food and takeaways. Consuming fresh food, cooked at home means you can control the amount of salt you consume.
Food may taste a little plain a first if you are used to a heavy sprinkle across your meals, but within around 4- 6 weeks your tastebuds will adjust and you’ll grow to appreciate the natural flavour of the food.
If you really crave a flavour kick try another seasoning such as basil, chilli or garlic.
3. Eat a DASH diet
In addition to giving up smoking, make sure your alcohol intake is no more than two drinks per day – one drink per day for women with high blood pressure – and undertake regular exercise, advises the Heart Foundation.
Nutritionists recommend the DASH diet for those hoping to lower their blood pressure.
DASH (short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) focuses on low sodium, fresh foods that assist in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
It’s rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and low-fat diary while steering away from red meat and sugary foods.