Meet Dr. Angela PriceHypertension and Cardiovascular Specialist in Dallas
Angela Price, M.D., uses her specialty training in hypertension to help people reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.
As a cardiologist, Dr. Price cares for a wide range of patients with heart problems. She says she focuses on high blood pressure because it is a major risk factor for heart-related illness, death, and disability – and more importantly, it’s a risk factor that can be modified.
“A patient can't change the fact that he was born a man, and men tend to be higher risk than women before age 65,” Dr. Price says. “We can't change the fact that we’re 75 years old versus 35, but we can change how well our blood pressure is controlled. A diagnosis of hypertension doesn’t have to translate into kidney disease, blindness, stroke, vascular disease or heart failure. In many cases, those complications can be prevented with optimization of blood pressure control and other cardiovascular risk factors.”
Identifying a Potential Source of Hypertension
Dr. Price says there are a few main drivers of high blood pressure that she works on with patients. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure and obesity-related sleep apnea can make hypertension more difficult to control.
“With the growing obesity epidemic in the United States, sleep apnea has become the leading secondary cause of hypertension in this country,” she says, “and treating obstructive sleep apnea generally improves blood pressure control.”
High dietary sodium intake is also a major contributor to high blood pressure. “I do a lot of dietary counseling with patients on how to track their salt intake and how to restrict it,” she says.
But perhaps the biggest issue Dr. Price tackles is helping patients stay on their blood pressure medications.
“Medication adherence is much lower than you would think,” she says. “Patients frequently stop medications due to side effects, so we try to find medications the patient can tolerate. We also work to simplify a person’s medication regimen as much as possible.”
Dr. Price says that while the process is highly individualized, she can generally find a medication regimen that works. The most important part of the process, she adds, is having and maintaining open and honest communication with her patients.
“High blood pressure is something that's treatable, but generally, it is not curable,” she says. “If a patient stops his or her medicines, high blood pressure will recur.”
Dr. Price says that for all her patients the goal is to assess the larger picture of their overall cardiovascular risk.
“When I evaluate someone, I’m not just thinking about blood pressure. I’m asking, does this person have underlying heart disease? Do his or her symptoms warrant further testing, such as a stress test or coronary angiogram? Should he or she be on aspirin and/or a cholesterol lowering medication?”
Her expertise in hypertension means that she often sees patients who develop high blood pressure early in life or those patients whose blood pressure remains difficult to control despite multiple medications. Dr. Price says it’s important that these people with early onset or resistant hypertension see a hypertension specialist.
“It’s unusual to have high blood pressure before the age of 40,” she says. “And even in patients who are under 50, I'm thinking about whether there could be another underlying cause of the problem, such as a hormone imbalance or vascular problem that can result in sudden high blood pressure.”
Dr. Price works with these patients to rule out underlying conditions such as primary hyperaldosteronism, also known as Conn's syndrome, and to develop a treatment plan.
Cardiovascular Health Over a Lifetime
Dr. Price says her clinic is an open door. “We do everything we can to encourage people to be vigilant and proactive about their own health. You don't need a referral to come see us, and if you're worried about your blood pressure, or don't like the medicines you're taking, getting a second opinion is not a bad thing.”
While she gets a lot of satisfaction from taking care of critically ill patients, the real joy Dr. Price derives from her work is helping people get back to a full and healthy life.
“I love to see my patients thrive as they get older,” she says, “and to see their families grow.”