Burning away high blood pressure

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There are one billion people in the world who have uncontrolled high blood pressure. It's a problem that medication can't solve for many. Now, for the first time there's a procedure that's zapping away this common condition.

Author, garden enthusiast, and art collector, Carl Youngberg has many titles. Including one he'd like to drop, high blood pressure patient. He's lived with the condition since he was nine years old.

"I've had it forever," said Youngberg.

Medications have failed to control it, so Youngberg enrolled in a clinical trial to test renal denervation.

"This is the first change in 100 years in the treatment of high blood pressure," said David L. Brown, MD, Co-director of Cardiovascular Research at the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.

The idea is to target overactive renal nerves that can cause blood pressure to soar. The nerves transmit information from the kidneys to the brain. Doctors insert a needle into an artery in the groin near the kidneys and burn the nerves.

"We take off some of that overdrive, and people feel better, and their blood pressure drops, on average, 30 points." said Cara East, MD, Cardiologist and Endocrinologist at the Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital.

So far it seems to be most effective for people with resistant high blood pressure, like Carl. Because he's in a double-blind trial, Youngberg doesn't know if he received the therapy, but he's hopeful.

"I'd like to find normal to be honest with you, a new normal for me would be wonderful," Youngberg said.

At its highest, Youngberg's blood pressure was 203 over 84. The last time he checked, it was 160 over 74. Renal denervation is already approved in Canada, Australia, and Europe. Doctors believe it could be FDA approved in two to three years. Risks are extremely rare but include infections and blood clots.

Additional Information:

 High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, coronary heart disease, and many other health problems.  Blood pressure is the tension of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood.  One in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure.  People can have it for years and not even know it.  However, through time it can damage the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and other parts of the body.  (Source: www.nhlbi.nih.gov)


BLOOD PRESSURE NUMBERS:  Blood pressure is measured as diastolic and systolic.  Diastolic refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.  Systolic is when the heart beats while pumping blood.  More commonly, blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number before or above the diastolic number, like 120/80 mmHg.  Normal blood pressure levels in adults are 120/80.  Prehypertension levels are 120-139/80-89. High blood pressure in stage 1 can range from 140-159/90-99.  High blood pressure in stage 2 can range from 160 or higher/100 or higher. Blood pressure levels are usually not consistent.  It can lower while sleeping and rise when awaking.  It can rise from being excited, active, or nervous.  If numbers stay in the prehypertension level, then the risk of developing high blood pressure increases.  (Source: www.nhlbi.nih.gov)


NEW TECHNOLOGY:  People who have high blood pressure can take steps to control it and reduce the risk for other health problems.  Lifestyle changes go a long way when controlling high blood pressure, but sometimes that's not enough. Medications are generally prescribed by doctors to lower it, but depending on the stage and the patient's general health medications may not be an option.  One of the body's methods for controlling blood pressure involves the sympathetic nervous system.  It includes the major organs responsible for regulating blood pressure.  The kidney plays a major role in regulating blood pressure.  Renal nerves communicate information from the kidney to the brain.  People with hypertension have hyperactive renal nerves, which raises blood pressure.  Renal Denervation treatment is in clinical trials to learn whether renal denervation is safe and effective.  The Simplicity HTN-3 clinical trial will attempt to disrupt the hyperactive nerves by applying radio frequency energy near the nerves with an experimental medical device.  A single procedure inserts a tube in the groin and places the device in the artery leading to the kidney.  Multiple treatments are performed in each artery to disrupt the hyperactive nerves.  After treatment, the device is removed.  To find out if you are a candidate for this trial, visit http://www.symplifybptrial.com/candidate/ to take a short survey.  (Source: http://www.symplifybptrial.com/therapy/)

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