Your Health: Treating Resistant Hypertension
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's called the "silent killer." High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor in heart attacks, stroke, and chronic heart failure according to the CDC.
Most people can control blood pressure through diet, exercise, and medication. But for one in five of the adults that struggle with high blood pressure, those three things just won't do enough.
A new experimental treatment called renal denervation could give hope to those suffering from resistant hypertension. It's new technology for treating hypertension that's already being used in Europe, but is still in clinical trials here in the states.
Doctors say it's a promising new technology, one that has the potential to help make existing treaments work better with fewer side effects.
"It blocks the signals that go from the brain to the kidney by disrupting the nerves that course from the renal artery," Dr. Matheen Khuddus, an interventional cardiologist at the Cardiac and Vascular Institute, says, "that's done by emitting radio frequency energy with catheters or balloons placed within the renal artery."
The treatment is designed to help supplement existing blood pressure medications, so ideally patients could decrease the amount of medication they need to take.
However this emerging technology hasn't come without bumps in the road. Last month, in the largest clinical trial to date, scientists found that while the treament tested by Medtronic posed no safety concerns, it was not as effective as they expected it to be.
These results may slow the pace of other trials in the works planning to test slightly different variations of renal denervation technology.
In the meantime, patients turn to facilities like the Cardiac and Vascular Institute's Hypertension Clinic. There, board certified hypertension specialists review all aspects of a patient's health to rule out any underlying causes of hypertension like thyroid problems or sleep apnea.
"You can throw meds at them and they might not be responding, there may be something that we're missing," Dr. Suzanne Zentko says, "and so that's what the hypertension clinic is designed to do."
North Florida Regional Medical Center and The Cardiac and Vascular Institute plan to participate in the first nationwide clinical trial once enrollment for that trial begins.
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