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Specialists in infectious disease worry about drug resistance all the time. The most difficult challenge in the fight against bacterial infection is to stay out in front of the organisms before they develop resistance to medications. But what happens when the organism is us and the disease is high blood pressure?

An increasing number of patients are failing to respond to blood pressure medications. It’s what’s known as resistant hypertension—blood pressure that remains elevated even after treatment with three or more different medications.

It’s dangerous, of course, to take increasing amounts of medication for a particular condition. It’s hard on the organs; and that’s in addition to the stress the condition puts on one’s body in the first place. No one is sure exactly how many cases of high blood pressure might be medication-resistant, because this kind of resistance is relatively new. But a review of past hypertension studies suggests that the numbers could be as high as 30% of all patients who report high blood pressure. It joins diabetes and heart disease among the worst complications in the ever-worsening problem of obesity in this country.

[Via the New York Times]