Hypertension can usually be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. On the other hand, up to one in five people have resistant hypertension that doesn’t respond well to blood pressure medications of any kind. For these people, there may be a new treatment alternative. According to new research published in the journal Lancet, a minimally-invasive procedure that uses radiowaves could help people with drug-resistant hypertension get their blood pressures under control.
A New Way to Treat Resistant Hypertension?
This blood pressure-lowering procedure called renal denervation, or RND, involves inserting a catheter into a groin artery and guiding it into the renal artery that leads to the kidney. Once it reaches the renal artery, the catheter is programmed to put out bursts of radio waves. These radiowaves inactivate small nerves that lie over the renal artery. These nerves stimulate the kidneys to produce hormones that raise blood pressure.
How well does this drug-free treatment work? Researchers tested it by randomly assigning 106 middle-aged people with hypertension to get high blood pressure medications or medications plus the RND procedure. Even though both groups began the study with similar blood pressures, the group who underwent the RND procedure experienced impressive drops in blood pressure – as much as 34 mm. Hg systolic and 13 mm. Hg diastolic, while the medication-only group experienced small drops or small rises in their blood pressure.
Treating Drug-Resistant Hypertension with RND
This RND procedure has the advantage of being minimally invasive with a low risk of side effects. It could offer a way to lower blood pressures in a group of people who don’t respond to medications. People with drug-resistant hypertension are more prone to stroke, heart attack and kidney disease due to the inability to get their blood pressures under control through medications and lifestyle changes.
This procedure will likely be reserved only for people who have resistant hypertension until more is know about its long-term effects. If it proves to be safe, it could be a drug-free way to treat high blood pressure.
RND for Drug-Resistant Hypertension: The Bottom Line?
This is an exciting new development for people who are unable to control their blood pressures through conventional means. Stay tuned for more research about this new treatment for resistant hypertension.
Medical News Today. “Zapping Kidney Nerves Lowers Drug-Resistant High Blood Pressure”.