A procedure called renal denervation resulted in medication-free blood pressure control in over a third of trial patients

A promising new study is documenting the long-term effects of a novel surgical procedure using ultrasound to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. It’s hoped the one-off procedure, called renal denervation, could offer patients an alternative option to taking hypertension drugs.

Renal denervation has been in development for almost a decade, however inconsistent clinical trial results have slowed the progress of this novel surgical procedure. The treatment involves delivering ultrasound pulses to nerves in the walls of renal arteries. This procedure has been found to reduce blood pressure, particularly in cases where hypertension has not effectively responded to traditional medications.

This newly published study follows up on an earlier report chronicling the effects of the surgery on patients up to two months after the initial procedure. This research followed over 140 patients for six months following the one-off renal denervation procedure.

The patients were split into treatment and placebo groups, both groups still consuming some degree of antihypertensive medicines. After six months, 58 percent of the treatment group reported normal blood pressure control, compared to 42 percent of the placebo group. Over 35 percent of subjects receiving the ultrasound treatment were completely free of any blood pressure medications six months after the procedure.

“These results point towards an exciting future for this new technology,” says Melvin Lobo, principal investigator on the trial, from Queen Mary University of London. “If long term safety and efficacy is proven in larger trials which are currently under way, we hope that renal denervation therapy could soon be offered as an alternative to many lifelong medications for hypertension.”

The six-month follow-up reported no significant adverse events from the surgical procedure, suggesting it is safe and tolerated well by patients. As Lobo suggests, larger trials will need to confirm the broad efficacy of the procedure, but these early results show promise the ultrasound treatment could become an important new tool in the battle against hypertension.

The new research was published in the journal Circulation.

Via Newatlas