29 May 2012
Patients in Bristol with high blood pressure are the first in the South West to be offered a new type of treatment to control their condition.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a condition where the force that blood is exerting on the walls of the arteries of the body is higher than desirable. When left untreated this can significantly increase the patient's risk of stroke, heart failure and chronic kidney disease.
This new research focuses on a treatment called renal denervation, which is based on our understanding of how blood pressure levels are controlled by nerve signals passed between the kidneys and the brain.
It is being undertaken by a multidisciplinary team of doctors and researchers from the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI), Bristol Neuroscience (BN), and the Richard Bright Renal Unit: Dr Angus Nightingale, Dr Andreas Baumbach, ProfessorJulian Paton and Professor Steven Harper.
High blood pressure afflicts one billion people worldwide and its prevalence increases with age, obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Around 10- 20 per cent of patients with the condition are unable to reach their target blood pressure even though they have been prescribed drug treatments. For these patients renal denervation may help.
The procedure involves severing the nerves that connect the kidneys to the brain and carry signals to control blood pressure. A wire is passed into the patient's blood vessels feeding the kidney and the tip of the wire is heated to burn the nerves running along the outside of the vessel. The tiny burns are done in a spiral pattern around the blood vessels until the connections are severed.
Dr Andreas Baumbach, consultant cardiologist at the BHI and Tutor in Cardiac, Anaesthetic and Radiological Sciences in the School of Clinical Sciences, said: "This is a fascinating new way of dealing with hypertension. Research results published in The Lancet show that patients who had the procedure saw their blood pressure drop by around 20 per cent and blood pressure seems to fall continuously even after two years. We are very keen to further develop this intervention and find out, in which patients it works best and how to predict a successful treatment."
Dr Angus Nightingale, consultant cardiologist at the BHI, said: “Recent results presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting, suggest that this treatment may be an effective way of reducing blood pressure in a group of people that we have found hard to treat in the past.
“The research we are doing brings together doctors from across Bristol including GPs and specialists. This is a great example of doctors from the Bristol Heart Institute and scientists from Bristol University are making available cutting edge technology to people in the South West.”
This is a fascinating new way of dealing with hypertension. Research results show that patients who had the procedure saw their blood pressure drop by around 20 per cent and blood pressure seems to fall continuously even after two years.