According to Discover magazine (see references below) researchers working at Ardian Inc., a medical research facility, as reported by the Lancet, have come up with a technique to reduce high blood pressure in people who don’t respond to other kinds of medication.
The technique involves running a catheter though a large vein to the kidney, and then positioning it in the area where the nerves are located that control the muscles that maintain blood pressure. A device on the catheter than sets off a burst of burst of radio waves which disable those nerves, leaving the other kidney to do the job itself, which in the study resulted in declines of 10 points or more over a six month period for some people with a success rate hovering around 84 percent.
Chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension is believed to be responsible for millions of heart attacks and strokes the world over every year, many of which could have been averted were people better able to control their blood pressure. In addition, hypertension can also cause blindness and erectile dysfunction because it can cause breakage in tiny capillaries leading to starvation of inner cells. In addition, many medications that help control hypertension cost more than many people can afford; thus a procedure that could be done once could potentially help people who have never had access to any type of treatment for their condition.
Also, because the way that the human body monitors and controls high blood pressure isn’t really very well understood, there are still many people who continue to experience chronic high blood pressure even while on medication. This is why any new treatment or technique that helps lower blood pressure, especially if it can be done without a monthly dose of expensive medicine, is big news.
The research team, led by Murray Esler, studied the effects of their new technique on over a hundred patients and Esler believes they could achieve even higher success rates if more research is done on the positioning of the nerve centers that maintain blood pressure.
The Discovery articles concludes by pointing out that Ardian, Inc. the company that ran the tests and published the results stands to profit from the new technique as they would be the same company that manufactured and sold the radio wave blasters that would be used in the treatment, which means the results still need to be verified by an independent outside agency.