Novel ultrasound therapy helps reduce blood pressure

May 17, 2021
Novel ultrasound therapy helps reduce blood pressure

Researchers led by Columbia University have demonstrated that an experimental ultrasound treatment – delivered to nerves near the kidney – successfully produced clinically meaningful reductions in blood pressure. Called renal denervation, the brief pulses of ultrasound reportedly worked for people whose hypertension did not respond to a triple cocktail of medications.

In a 2019 clinical study following over 100 patients for six months pointed to promising positive results: the simple surgical procedure involves threading a catheter up to the renal arteries via an artery in the leg. Ultrasound energy is then used to, “thermally ablate and disrupt the renal sympathetic nerves while sparing the renal arterial wall.”

A newer study that recruited 136 patients with severe treatment-resistant hypertension showed that daytime ambulatory systolic blood pressure had dropped an average of eight points in patients receiving the renal denervation procedure, compared to a drop of just three points in the patients receiving a sham procedure – and this was observed just two months post-treatment.

“For patients with drug-resistant hypertension, a drop in blood pressure of eight points – if maintained over longer-term follow-up – is almost certainly going to help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other adverse cardiac events,” said cardiologist Dr. Ajay Kirtane, from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“These results suggest that renal denervation has potential to become an important add-on to medication therapy – including for those who have difficulty managing several medications to control their hypertension. Additional studies will be needed to determine if this therapy may be effective for other groups, including older patients with hypertension and those with chronic kidney disease.”

The treatment has not yet been approved for clinical use by the FDA, but the researchers are hopeful.

Read: Isometric resistance training shown to safely reduce high blood pressure

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