Hypertension may be lowered thanks to a new implantable device that shows promise, researchers say.
The device, surgically placed just below the collarbone, sends a four- to six-volt electrical jolt to the carotid arteries, reports HealthDay News.
This is said to lower blood pressure through a process known as baroreflex activation therapy.
The study's lead author is Dr. John D. Bisognano, a professor of medicine in the cardiology division of the University of Rochester. Bisognano is also a consultant for CVRx, Inc., the device's maker, which funded the study.
He said, HealthDay News reports, that people with resistant hypertension -- high blood pressure that doesn't respond to multi-drug therapy and lifestyle changes -- are a growing group who are "in desperate need of additional treatments."
"This system is safe, and its effect is as good as two or three drugs for people who are already taking five or six drugs and still can't control their hypertension," Bisognano said.
The pulses generated by the device trick the body into thinking that blood pressure has spiked.
In response, the body sends out regulators that cause blood pressure to fall, say researchers.
For this phase 3 study, the device was implanted in 265 patients with high blood pressure (readings over 160/80 mmHg) recruited from centers in the United States and Europe, reports HealthDay News.
All of the patients had been taking three or more blood pressure medications, including a diuretic, but their hypertension remained uncontrolled.The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups, with both groups taking about the same number of medications. One group received the baroreflex activation therapy device with activation for the full 12 months. In the other group, the device was programmed to start operating at six months, HealthDay News reports.The goal for systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) was under 140 mmHg. At monthly visits, if a patient's target was not met, the voltage was upped to further lower blood pressure.Systolic blood pressure dropped in both groups, the researchers reported. Overall, "reductions in [systolic blood pressure] at 12 months were at least 50 percent of those seen at six months, demonstrating a sustained response," the researchers wrote.In both time periods, both groups saw their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in a reading) drop as well, reports HealthDay News."The data showed that the therapy significantly reduced blood pressure in patients with resistant hypertension," the researchers said.Dr. Barry J. Materson, a professor of medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that, although the device may effectively reduce blood pressure, the surgery is risky.Also, HealthDay News reports, the study fails to address the costs associated with the device, Materson said. The researchers were scheduled to present their findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.Experts note that research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal, reports HealthDay News.