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Surgery Involving Ultrasound Energy Might Reduce High Blood Pressure

Surgery involving ultrasound energy might reduce high blood pressure, according to a study conducted on May 23, 2018.

This study is based on the results of a clinical trial in the U.K. by Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). They found that an operation that was targeting the nerves connected to the kidney has significantly reduced blood pressure in patients with hypertension. On confirmation of these findings through more extensive clinical trials, this surgery could offer hope to patients with high blood pressure who do not respond to drugs, and are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack.

The international clinical trial tested a one-hour operation called ‘renal denervation’, which uses ultrasound energy to disrupt the nerves between the kidneys and the brain that carry signals for controlling blood pressure. 146 patients in the U.S., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom were included in the study and were asked to receive either renal denervation or a surgical equivalent of a placebo. They were asked to stop taking medications for blood pressure for two months, unless specified blood pressure levels were exceeded.

After two months, an 8.5 mm Hg reduction in blood pressure was experienced by the renal denervation group, which was a 6.3 mm Hg greater reduction compared with the other group. More than 66 per cent of subjects treated with renal denervation demonstrated a 5 mm Hg or greater reduction in blood pressure, compared with 33 per cent in the other group. Moreover, the blood pressure lowering effect of renal denervation was consistent across sex and ethnicity.

Dr. Melvin Lobo, U.K. Principal Investigator said, “These results leave us clinicians in no doubt that this ultrasound-based therapy works to improve blood pressure control — at least in the short term. Further larger trials will be needed to confirm the efficacy and safety of the technology, but we hope that they could lead to renal denervation therapy being offered as an alternative to lifelong medications for hypertension.”