Local hospitals test alternative to drugs for high blood pressure

(The Columbus Dispatch) – About 1 in 10 people with high blood pressure finds inadequate help from medications, even when on a half-dozen or more pills.

Drug-resistant hypertension has long confounded doctors and frustrated patients, who live with side effects from medicines that don’t entirely alleviate the problem.

Researchers at 87 centers throughout the country are testing a potential fix that approaches the problem in a novel way. Instead of going after high blood pressure with medicine, they are going after the nerves that carry messages from the brain to the kidneys and back.

Blood pressure is controlled in large part by the sympathetic nervous system, which includes the brain, heart, kidneys and blood vessels. In people with hypertension, the renal nerves are hyperactive.

Using a catheter inserted through the groin, doctors are essentially killing the nerves in the renal artery, with the goal of eliminating messages that throw blood pressure out of whack.

The treatment is widely available in Europe and Australia.In the current U.S. study, half the patients get the treatment; the other half don’t. The experiment eventually will involve 500 patients, including some treated at Riverside Methodist Hospital, Ohio State University’s Wex-ner Medical Center and four other sites in Ohio.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a big burden on the health-care system and is hard on patients, said Dr. Mitchell Silver, an interventional cardiologist who is leading the study at Riverside, where two patients have been enrolled. “It’s a big quality-of-life issue,” he said.


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