New procedure to revolutionise blood pressure treatment

08 November, 2013

Final results of a Monash-led three-year clinical trial assessing a novel procedure to treat blood pressure has been published today in the prestigious journal, The Lancet.

The study, conducted in Australia and Europe, found that the initial reports of a six-month blood pressure lowering benefit in this group of patients, who have treatment resistant hypertension, are sustained out to three years. 

Director of Monash University's Centre of Cardiovascular Research and Education in Therapeutics, Professor Henry Krum, led the research collaboration around this study.

The new technique, called percutaneous renal sympathetic denervation, involves disrupting the nerves around the kidney that sends signals to the brain and kidneys to drive up blood pressure. There were no major short or long-term safety issues associated with the procedure.

The World Health Organisation estimates that hypertension affects around 40 per cent of adults aged 25 and over and is responsible for 7.5 million deaths a year worldwide. It is a risk factor for heart disease - the leading cause of death in Australia - and a number of other conditions including, stroke, heart failure, renal impairment and visual impairment.

Professor Krum said now that the procedure could be safely introduced into the clinic, it would save lives and improve quality of life for hypertension sufferers.

"These findings support the durability of the procedure and its clinical utility in a group of severe hypertensive patients who have run out of further treatment options," Professor Krum said.

Percutaneous renal sympathetic denervation is carried out under local anaesthetic and uses radio energy frequency, delivered to the targeted nerve area via catheter. As a result the nerves are silenced in the renal artery, which supplies blood to the kidneys.

The study was funded by Medtronic, Minneapolis, USA.