Reaching New Heights in Blood Pressure Treatment

“I no longer worry that I have a ticking time bomb inside of me all the time.”

RoxanneRoxanne Wettstein struggled with high blood pressure since age 39. After a few common blood pressure medications didn’t work, she didn’t know where to turn.

“I was extremely frustrated,” said Roxanne. “I didn't know what steps I could take next for myself. I didn’t know where to go for help or what insurance would allow.”

Then one day Roxanne happened to see a clinician for an unrelated issue who noted that Roxanne’s blood pressure had reached 225/119. Normal blood pressure is when systolic blood pressure (SBP) is less than 120 and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) is less than 80. Patients should start discussing hypertension treatment options with their primary care clinicians when SBP is between 130-139 or DBP is between 80-89 for more than three months.

CentraCare’s Hypertension Clinic

The clinician referred Roxanne to the Hypertension Clinic at CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center. As the only dedicated high blood pressure clinic in Central Minnesota, it serves people who have:

  • Difficult to control hypertension
  • Resistant hypertension, meaning blood pressure remains above the goal despite medications
  • People who have high blood pressure along with other health conditions

The clinic is staffed by experienced hypertension specialists, including a cardiologist, advanced practice provider, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists. Together the team manages high blood pressure through education, medication and lifestyle change. At times, they may recommend emerging treatments like renal denervation, which is a minimally invasive procedure that reduces nerve activity within the kidneys, a known contributor to high blood pressure. CentraCare was recently selected to participate in a clinical study related to renal denervation.

At the clinic, Roxanne met Yaga Saine, APRN, CNP. Yaga listened to Roxanne as she explained her situation. He then did an in-depth evaluation to look for potential causes of the high blood pressure, including several different blood tests.

“Treating hypertension is an art,” said Yaga. “It not only requires knowing the treatment guidelines for hypertension but also time, empathy and a listening ear so that you can address possible side effects of medications, needed lifestyle changes or socioeconomic issues.” Yaga said every treatment plan needs to be individualized to the patient, noting that some people may not be able to afford medications or be able to take medications more than once a day.

In the case of Roxanne, Yaga suggested she progress through a variety of medications until they found the one that worked best for her.

As she worked through options, Roxanne was impressed that Yaga’s nurse would either call her or message her through the online medical record, MyChart, to see how each medication was working. “We stayed in touch quite a bit,” said Roxanne. “When I had a problem with one medication, Yaga lowered the dose. When I felt lightheaded from another, he suggested we cut it in half and take one half in the morning and the other at night.”

As a result of this communication and effort, Roxanne said her blood pressure is now within the acceptable range and she only needs to make return visits to the clinic once per year. She feels her energy level has increased. “As a hairdresser, I stand all day, interact with people and work a lot of hours,” said Roxanne. “I can now work a full day and not feel like my battery’s low.”

Disappearing Blood Pressure Symptoms

flowersLooking back, Roxanne realizes she didn’t recognize her high blood pressure symptoms because they had become part of her day-to-day life, including a constant headache and feeling of stress throughout her body. These symptoms have all disappeared.

Along with her symptoms, the constant fear of high blood pressure damaging her heart, possibly leading to a stroke or heart attack, also vanished. “I no longer worry that I have a ticking time bomb inside of me all the time,” said Roxanne. With greater peace of mind, Roxanne looks forward to doing what she loves, including collecting antique Halloween decorations, gardening, hiking and visiting Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan’s largest freshwater spring.