Hypertension Specialist in Dallas
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to high blood pressure: Controlling it can help prevent debilitating, sometimes deadly events such as heart attack and stroke.
Wanpen Vongpatanasin, M.D, the Norman and Audrey Kaplan Chair in Hypertension at UT Southwestern Medical Center, specializes in caring for people with persistent high blood pressure, also known as resistant hypertension.
Persistent high blood pressure is often closely associated with other medical conditions such as sleep apnea, high salt intake, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes. Some patients with Parkinson’s disease and autonomic system disorders not only have high blood pressure, but also have spells of low blood pressure when standing up, known as orthostatic hypotension, that can be quite difficult to treat. High blood pressure also may be the result of an adrenal condition known as Conn’s syndrome, which is more common than previously thought but somewhat challenging to diagnose.
To pinpoint the precise reason for a patient’s difficulties in controlling high blood pressure, Dr. Vongpatanasin and her colleagues collaborate closely with the patient’s primary care provider and her UT Southwestern colleagues.
Sometimes what appears to be resistant hypertension turns out to be caused by a patient’s difficulty in keeping up with his or her prescribed medications.
“We often see people who have been told to take six or seven pills four times a day,” Dr. Vongpatanasin says. “That’s a very hard regimen to follow. Or a patient may not be taking the pills because of unpleasant side effects and has been reluctant to tell the physician.
“So we need to have an open conversation and find out what is really going on, and then we can address it,” Dr. Vongpatanasin continues. “It may be a matter of getting family members to help the patient remember to take the pills, or of adjusting the medication to minimize the side effects.”
Taking steps to simplify prescriptions whenever possible is another key tactic.
“We often can help people manage their blood pressure more effectively with perhaps just two or three pills twice a day,” Dr. Vongpatanasin says. “That’s a big improvement.”
Improving Quality of Life
Helping her patients gain better control of their blood pressure greatly improves their quality of life as well as their long-term health outlook.
“They can enjoy daily life, as well as special activities such as exercise competitions and travel, without worrying about their blood pressure all the time,” Dr. Vongpatanasin says.
Some of her patients even report that their personality has changed for the better under her care.
“They tell me that they are much more relaxed because they don’t have to worry about their blood pressure as much,” she says. “That is very rewarding.”