High blood pressure ‘zapped’

Current understanding is that about half of patients with high blood pressure are unable to reduce their blood pressure using conventional means.

New research suggests that people with hypertension who do not respond to drugs may be able to have the condition treated successfully by deactivating nerves in their kidneys.

A small study of the experimental treatment, which involves radio waves to destroy renal nerves involved in regulating hypertension, has shown that patients had their blood pressure lowered significantly.

“too good to be true” that a procedure might cure high blood pressure.

About half of all patients with high blood pressure aren’t able to lower their blood pressure to accepted levels with medicaction, diet, lifestyle changes and other healthcare products.

Scientists said that for these patients the new treatment could address the condition permanently, reducing risk of death and hypertension-related illness substantially.

New treatment to lower high blood pressure

The new treatment involves a tube pushed into a blood vessel in the groin, similar to the angioplasty procedures for opening clogged heart arteries. Radio waves  then zap nerves near the kidneys that fuel high blood pressure.

Renal nerves play a key part in the regulation of blood pressure, through their effect on renin release and sodium reabsorption, and kidney blood flow.

The study, published online by The Lancet, involved 106 patients whose systolic blood pressure (the top number in read-outs) was 178mm Hg despite taking a number of different drugs. After six months, about 39 per cent of those treated had blood pressure below the level that defines the condition.

High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension, is usually defined as having a sustained blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or above.

taking blood pressure reading

It often causes no symptoms or immediate problems (high blood pressure is frequently refered to as the ‘silent killer’) but it is a major risk factor for developing a serious cardiovascular disease (conditions that affect the functioning of the heart and the circulation of blood around the body), such as a stroke or heart disease.

High blood pressure affects about 1 in 3 adults in England. It is estimated that 18 per cent of adult men and 13 per cent of adult women have high blood pressure but are not getting treatment for it. Estimates that there are about 1 billion people worldwide affected by hypertension.

The study leader from Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and co-authors wrote that the treatment was conducted without major complications and confirmed the “crucial relevance of renal nerves in the maintenance of raised blood pressure in patients with hypertension”.

The study results were presented today at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago, where scientists welcomed the findings.

A cardiologist at the conference, described the research as extremely interesting saying  “that even if the treatment was only partly successful, the benefits would still be considerable”.

” the improvement in control of blood sugar also recorded in people who underwent the nerve deactivation would make it especially attractive for diabetics with high blood pressure”.

A spokesperson of the heart failure centre at the University of Pennsylvania, added that it seemed almost “too good to be true” that a procedure might cure high blood pressure and added “patients need to be followed for a long time to make sure the benefits last”.