No Need for High Blood Pressure Meds?

A novel treatment for drug-resistant hypertension

About 72 million adults in the United States suffer from hypertension, defined as having a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher. Of these, about 4 million adults (approximately 6 percent) suffer from drug-resistant hypertension. This is a form of the disease that does not respond to normal treatments such as reducing salt intake or using various combinations of medications. John Blebea discusses new treatment options for patients.

Electrical stimulation of “stretch receptors” surrounding the carotid arteries in the neck may prove to be the next treatment for drugresistant hypertension. Clinical researchers from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine are part of an international research group examining the efficacy of this novel treatment. John Blebea, MD, Chief, Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, University Hospitals Case Medical Center; Director, Vascular Center, UH Harrington- McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute; and Professor of Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, reports that this technique could enable patients to reduce or entirely discontinue use of their blood pressure medications.

Shocking treatment
Performed under general anesthesia, the procedure involves surgical placement of electrodes around both carotid arteries in the neck. The electrode wires are tunneled beneath the skin to an area under the collarbone where a battery and control unit are placed. “The device is very similar to a [heart] pacemaker and, indeed, has been termed a pacemaker for high blood pressure,” says Dr. Blebea. Electrical stimulation of the stretch receptors that surround the carotid arteries, known as baroreceptors, sends an electrical signal to the brain, causing it to use its natural pathways and mechanisms to relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure – the baroreflex. “The result is seen immediately after the device is turned on,”says Dr. Blebea.

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One Response to “No Need for High Blood Pressure Meds?”

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