Heating nerves with ultrasound reduces high blood pressure

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DRUGS for treating high blood pressure (hypertension) do not work in around a third of patients who receive a prescription for them.

The kidneys help to regulate blood pressure by adjusting how much water they extract from the bloodstream.

A relatively new technique calledd renal denervation applies ultrasound to heat overactive nerves that transmit signals to the kidneys.

A new study suggests that the technique can lower blood pressure in patients with drug-resistant hypertension.

Hypertension is known as the silent killer because while the condition has few if any symptoms, it increases a person’s risk of potentially fatal heart disease and stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source report that although nearly half of all adults in the United States have hypertension, only about 1 in 4 of these adults have the condition under control.

In around a third of patients who take antihypertensives, the drugs either do not work, or patients fail to take them as directed.

In people with hypertension, the ability of the kidneys to regulate blood pressure by adjusting how much water they extract from the bloodstream may become compromised.

In 2019, Medical News Today reported a successful clinical trial of an alternative to drug treatment called renal denervation for people with mild to moderate hypertension.

Renal denervation reduces overactivity in nerves that carry signals from the central nervous system to the kidneys, which lowers blood pressure.

The technique involves inserting a flexible catheter through a small incision in the groin, then threading it into the artery that supplies blood to each kidney.

For several seconds, a device at the tip of the catheter sends controlled bursts of ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) into the tissue surrounding the artery.

The pulses of ultrasound heat up and damage some nerve fibers close to the kidney, reducing their activity.

A clinical trial by the same team of researchers now suggests that renal denervation can reduce blood pressure in patients with moderate to severe hypertension who do not respond to drug treatment.