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Renal denervation procedure zaps hypertension

March 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to many other problems, including stroke and kidney failure.

One in three adults has hypertension. People can have high blood pressure for years and not even know it.

Studies show that if blood pressure stays in a pre-hypertensive state somewhere in the 130s over the high 80s, then the risk of developing high blood pressure increases.

A clinical trial was held to test something called renal denervation, an experimental procedure to zap the problem.

"This is the first change in 100 years in the treatment of high blood pressure," said Dr. David Brown of the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas.

The idea is to target overactive renal nerves that can cause blood pressure to soar. The nerves transmit information from the kidneys to the brain. Doctors insert a needle into an artery in the groin near the kidneys and burn the nerves.

"We take off some of that overdrive and people feel better, and their blood pressure drops, on average, 30 points," Brown said.

So far, it seems to be most effective for people with resistant high blood pressure.

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