28 May 2012
Bristol Heart Institute to trial new tool to combat high blood pressure
Doctors at the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) are the first in
the South West to offer patients with high blood pressure the
opportunity to control their condition with a new type of
The research study is being undertaken at the Bristol Heart
Institute and hopes to add to the body of research around a
treatment called renal denervation. The team comprises doctors and
researchers from the The Bristol Heart Institute (Dr Angus
Nightingale, Dr Andreas Baumbach), the University of Bristol
(ProfessorJulian Paton), and the Richard Bright Renal Unit
(Professor Steven Harper).
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a condition where the
force that blood is exerting on the walls of the arteries of the
body is higher than desirable. When left untreated this can
significantly increase the patient's risk of stroke, heart failure
and chronic kidney disease.
High blood pressure afflicts one billion people worldwide and
its prevalence increases with age, obesity and sedentary
lifestyles. Around 10- 20% of patients with the condition are
unable to reach their target blood pressure even though they have
been prescribed drug treatments. For these patients renal
denervation may help.
The procedure involves severing the nerves that connect the
kidneys to the brain and carry signals to control blood pressure. A
wire is passed into the patient's blood vessels feeding the kidney
and the tip of the wire is heated to burn the nerves running along
the outside of the vessel. The tiny burns are done in a spiral
pattern around the blood vessels until the connections are
Dr Andreas Baumbach, consultant cardiologist at the BHI, says:
"This is a fascinating new way of dealing with hypertension.
Research results published in The Lancet show that patients who had
the procedure saw their blood pressure drop by around 20 per cent
and blood pressure seems to fall continuously even after two years.
We are very keen to further develop this intervention and find out,
in which patients it works best and how to predict a successful
Dr Angus Nightingale, consultant cardiologist at the BHI, said:
"Recent results presented at the American College of Cardiology
meeting, suggest that this treatment may be an effective way of
reducing blood pressure in a group of people that we have found
hard to treat in the past.
"The research we are doing brings together doctors from across
Bristol including GPs and specialists. This is a great example of
doctors from the Bristol Heart Institute and scientists from
Bristol University are making available cutting edge technology to
people in the South West."
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