High Blood Pressure

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Duke cardiologists take a comprehensive approach to treating hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. With heart clinics in Durham, Raleigh, and beyond the Triangle, our highly skilled specialists work together to screen for hypertension, evaluate the cause, and determine the best course of treatment.

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Comprehensive Approach to Treating High Blood Pressure

What Is Hypertension?
When the blood pressure in your arteries is too high, your heart works harder to pump blood through your body. High blood pressure rarely causes symptoms, but the damage it does to your arteries can be severe. Left untreated, the constant effort to pump blood harder and the damage to your blood vessels can lead to heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke.

Lower Your Blood Pressure, Reduce Your Risk of Complications
Our experienced cardiologists diagnose hypertension early and work to identify the underlying cause. We involve our kidney specialists when the kidneys overproduce a substance called renin that may cause blood pressure to rise. Our goal is always to identify the best approach to lower your blood pressure quickly and effectively while reducing your risk for the serious complications that can result.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Lifestyle Changes

A cornerstone of managing high blood pressure is through lifestyle changes. Our cardiac prevention and rehabilitation program provides the tools and support you need to make lasting changes that will improve your health. These include medically supervised exercise programs, stress management training, nutrition and weight loss counseling, smoking cessation programs, and more.


Your doctor may prescribe medication in addition to lifestyle changes to help manage your blood pressure. They may include:

  • Diuretics. Also called "water pills" because they cause the kidneys to release excess water and sodium from the body. Typically, these will be prescribed along with another medication.
  • Beta-blockers. Control the rate and force with which the heart muscle pumps. Typically prescribed if you have angina (chest pain) or have had a heart attack.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). Cause the blood vessels to relax, allowing better blood flow.
  • Calcium channel blockers (CCBs). Limit the amount of calcium that enters the cells of your heart and blood vessels, causing the blood vessels to relax.

Renal Denervation

We are currently testing this minimally invasive procedure to determine its effectiveness in lowering blood pressure in people who take multiple medications and have been diagnosed with resistant hypertension. If you are eligible to participate, a catheter is used to access your renal arteries, where a pulse of radiofrequency energy is delivered to deaden overactive nerves that can be a main cause of hypertension. Once the activity of these nerves is reduced, the body responds by lowering your heart rate and other factors that appear to lower blood pressure.

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Screening and Tests

Blood Pressure Screening

Measures the systolic pressure -- the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating -- and the diastolic pressure -- the pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. Because blood pressure varies significantly over the course of the day, your doctor will take multiple readings at different times and may also ask you to measure your blood pressure at home.

Blood and Imaging Tests

Additional tests may determine if you have signs of heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease. These may include a blood test to detect high cholesterol, a urinalysis to detect proteins signaling kidney disease, or advanced imaging scans such as an electrocardiogram that evaluates your heart’s electrical activity.

Why Choose Duke

Early Intervention
We work to identify early or mild hypertension, often called pre-hypertension, by educating you about the potential risks and ways to lower your blood pressure through lifestyle changes.

Support for Lasting Lifestyle Changes
Experts in our cardiac prevention and rehabilitation program -- exercise physiologists, nutritionists, cardiologists, counselors, and others -- work with you to help you quit smoking, exercise more, and make healthy food choices. These lifestyle changes play an important role in lowering your high blood pressure.

A Comprehensive Team
Our cardiologists and kidney specialists help you understand your prescribed treatment plan and set manageable goals. We also work to reduce any barriers, including financial concerns or complicated treatment plans, that may keep you from following our recommendations.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Heart Hospital in NC
When it comes to your heart care, you want the very best. Duke University Hospital's nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program is ranked the best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 08/30/2018