Combining attentive, compassionate care with our extensive clinical and research resources, UT Southwestern's cardiology experts and vascular specialists deliver individualized care within pre-eminent health care facilities.
High Blood Pressure
The specialized heart doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center expertly diagnose and treat people with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Our physicians unite skill and experience with the most current proven tools and techniques to precisely evaluate and treat this common but potentially serious condition.
Skilled Evaluation and Care for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against artery walls. With high blood pressure, the arteries can have an increased resistance against blood flow, causing the heart to pump harder to circulate blood.
There are two types of high blood pressure:
- Primary hypertension: The most common type, for which there is no identifiable cause
- Secondary hypertension: Caused by an underlying condition, such as kidney disease
UT Southwestern’s experienced doctors offer a range of proven treatments and strategies for managing both primary and secondary hypertension. Our team of experts works closely with patients and their families to choose the most appropriate treatment to improve quality of life.
UT Southwestern is also home to a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease.
Causes of Hypertension
There are different risk factors for primary and secondary hypertension.
Risk factors for primary hypertension include:
- Advancing age: Risk increases as people get older.
- Ethnicity: Certain populations, such as African-Americans, are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure at a younger age than other populations.
- Excess stress
- Excess weight
- Family history of hypertension
- Lack of regular exercise
- Tobacco use
- Too little potassium in the diet
- Too much salt or alcohol in the diet
Risk factors for secondary hypertension include:
- Adrenal disease
- Endocrine disease, such as thyroid and parathyroid disease
- Genetic diseases
- Kidney disease
- Metabolic problems
- Neurological diseases
- Renovascular hypertension: Narrowing of the vessels that supply the kidneys with blood
- Vascular disease (affecting blood vessels)
Although hypertension usually has no signs or symptoms, it increases the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. People can know if they have high blood pressure by having it checked regularly by their health care provider.
UT Southwestern cardiologists evaluate patients’ elevated blood pressure levels to determine the severity of the hypertension and whether it is primary or secondary hypertension.
As part of this evaluation, our physicians also review the medications patients are taking because some can negatively affect blood pressure and blood pressure medications.
Depending on the severity and type of hypertension, the UT Southwestern doctor might order additional testing to identify the cause of the problem and determine if the hypertension damaged the kidneys or heart. Additional tests might include:
- Urine test
- Blood test
- Echocardiography (echo or cardiac ultrasound)
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
- Diabetes testing
- High cholesterol testing
Treatments for High Blood Pressure
We offer a number of treatments and strategies for managing hypertension, such as:
- Diet modification recommendations: Patient-specific advice about the types and amounts of food and drink to consume to lower blood pressure
- Exercise recommendations: Realistic, practical regimens that take into consideration each patient’s age and general health
- Medication: When diet and exercise alone don’t lower blood pressure, a medication program is specifically tailored to each patient. While a single medication might be effective, a combination of medications is sometimes the best solution.
UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.
As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.
Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.
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