Heating Kidneys to Treat Heart Failure
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01 June 2011
New Way To Cut Nerve Signals To Brain
British doctors claim to have embarked on a unique technique to treat patients with heart failure – by warming up their kidneys with high energy waves.
The treatment, which numbs the nerves that carry signals from the kidney to the brain, has previously been used to treat high blood pressure. Now, a team at Imperial College London is using this technique on patients with heart failure to relieve their symptoms.
Many of the symptoms in heart failure are linked to the kidneys. It seems the kidneys mistakenly tell the brain to send the body into "emergency mode", which increases heart rate and raises blood pressure, placing even greater strain on heart and triggering symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue.
The theory is that cutting off certain nerve signals between the kidney and the brain will improve heart failure symptoms, say the doctors. Darrel Francis, the cardiologist whose team is conducting the new trial, said, "Substances such as adrenaline help the body conserve blood and make heart beat harder to get blood to the major organs.
"But in heart failure, for some reason, this alarm system is going off all the time. It’s a bit like a car alarm – there to tell us when something is wrong. But if it starts sounding when it’s not supposed to, it gets very annoying."
In their trial, an electric probe will be inserted into one of the arteries near the kidneys. The probe produces radio frequency energy waves that heat the area by 20 degrees.
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