Hypertension: You’ve got a nerve

April 14th, 2009 - 9:52 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, April 14 (DPA) For half her life, 66-year-old Gael Lander struggled with high blood pressure that did not respond to the drugs usually prescribed.
“I really felt as if something or someone had pushed the fast-forward button,” she said. “Everything raced - for example, my heart - and I didn’t quite know what a feeling of calmness was or just being in a state of relaxation.”

Then came a world-first operation that dealt with what’s called resistant hypertension - the high blood pressure that pills couldn’t deal with. The operation lasted less than an hour and was performed by doctors at Melbourne’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

A catheter pushed through the femoral artery and radio waves used to knock out the nerves in the blood vessel wall that pump blood to the kidneys. These sympathetic renal arteries help regulate blood pressure.

Lander’s blood pressure is now down to a relatively safe 140/70 and her life has been transformed.

The institute’s Markus Schlaich described the procedure as “one of the greatest achievements in the last 20 years within the area of resistant hypertension”, adding that he was confident it would “be a part of medical practice in the relatively near future”.

A paper he co-authored on the procedure appeared in the journal The Lancet.

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