What we know

High blood pressure causes, or helps to cause, almost two-thirds of all strokes and half of all heart attacks. Most people with high blood pressure can be treated by changing what they eat, doing more exercise or taking medications. However, among people with high blood pressure are some whose blood pressure remains too high despite taking three drugs, exercising more and watching what they eat.

Some may not be taking their drugs correctly. Others may simply have high blood pressure when they go to see their doctor, but it comes back to normal when they go about their daily business. However, it is hard to work out how important these two things are for individual patients.

High blood pressure is called hypertension and blood pressure that is hard to control is called resistant hypertension, that is, it resists treatment.

What we are not sure about

Leading researchers have suggested that between 15% and 30% of treated patients with high blood pressure have resistant hypertension. Everyone agrees that there is a need for further research about how common resistant hypertension is, what happens to patients who have it, and how to treat them.

What this study is exploring

This study aims to work out how common resistant hypertension is Ireland. The study will look at blood pressure readings taken over a whole day for patients with suspected resistant hypertension and will follow these patients for two years to see how well patients are taking their medications and how they are doing generally, to help understand why their blood pressure is hard to control.

Why is this study important?

High blood pressure causes, or helps to cause, almost two-thirds of all strokes and half of all heart attacks. It is important to understand why blood pressure is hard to control in some people, to help identify a better way of treating these patients.

Who can take part?

Anyone over 18 years of age with high blood pressure, who don’t have any other severe medical or psychological issues can take part, provided their GP is one of the 20 GPs in County Galway that are taking part in the study.

What will the study involve for a person taking part?

If you take part in this study, you attend your own GP for:

  • Fitting of a blood pressure monitoring device,a small monitor, worn in a pouch on a belt, and the monitor is connected to a cuff on your upper arm. You wear this monitor for 24 hours as you go about your usual daily activities and it records your blood pressure at regular intervals, including while you are asleep
  • Giving a urine sample to test whether you are taking your medications correctly
  • Completing a questionnaire describing when and how you take your medications

If the results from this first phase of the study suggest that you have Resistant Hypertension, you will be invited to attend a hypertension clinic in the local hospital, which is led by a consultant. At that specialist clinic, further tests will be carried out to try to understand why your blood pressure is hard to control. You will receive advice on the best treatment options and the team will follow up with you over a two-year period.

For more information: Researchers at NUI Galway are running this study. More information is available from Monica Casey.