Of All the Nerve!

Renal denervation blocks kidney signals reducing high blood pressure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Renal denervation treatment, is a new technique which interrupts the nerve signals between the kidneys and brain, helped dropped blood pressure in 39% of people with drug-resistant hypertension.

Dr. Marc Sapoval, professor of clinical radiology and chair of the cardiovascular radiology department at Hopital Europeen Georges-Pompidou in Paris authored the study which took place in 24 international sites. Renal denervation treatment is a procedure that uses a catheter-based probe emitting high-frequency energy near the renal artery to deactivate nearby nerves. This was the first human randomized trial of renal denervation. The results have U.S. experts throwing around words like “exciting” and “visionary”.

dailyRx Insight: Renal Denervation shows great promise for drug-resistant hypertension.

Prior to the study, all the participants had resistant essential hypertension, which means that a doctor could not figure out what was causing their high blood pressure and that three or more drugs had failed to control the condition. The study was conducted at 24 different sites internationally on 106 patients with hypertension. They randomly either received an oral medication or the renal denerevation performed by an interventional radiologist. Six months later, the patients who received renal denervation experienced an average systolic blood pressure drop of 32 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure drop of 12 mm Hg. Additionally, 39 percent of the patients receiving the nerve block procedure were able to achieve and maintain normal blood pressure levels.

Researchers are not sure why renal denervation works, but it appears to slow down over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which can trigger high blood pressure. If these results are confirmed by independent trials, studies will then test the procedure on patients with moderately high blood pressure.

It is estimated that close to 30% of the United States population has high blood pressure (hypertension), or about 90 million people. Blood pressure is measured as the force the pumping blood exerts on the walls of the arteries in the body. When this pressure is higher than normal (120/80 mmHg), patients are at risk for heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and aneurysms in the arteries and brain. Even moderate high blood pressure can lead to a shortened life expectancy. Most high blood pressure is asymptomatic, and is discovered during a routine checkup. As blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels, some people may experience symptoms such as headache, ringing in the ears, visual changes, and irregular heartbeat. These symptoms are a medical emergency. At particularly high risk for high blood pressure are African Americans, people who are obese, smokers, diabetics, having high salt intake, and having a family history. Alcohol abuse and cocaine use can also cause hypertension. Diagnosis is made by measuring blood pressure over several doctors visits, and is treated by lifestyle modification first, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, dietary changes, and exercise. There are hundreds of different medications to treat hypertension, such as beta-blockers (Lopressor, Inderal), diuretics (Diamox, HydroDiuril), Calcium channel blockers (Norvasc, Procardia), and ACE inhibitors (Lotensin, Vasotec, Capoten).

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 30, 2011
Last Updated:
March 30, 2011