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The Times Of India
22 Dec 2012

A simple procedure that involves exposing the kidneys to radio waves can cure raised blood pressure, especially among hypertension patients

A study conducted in Australia has shown that a new procedure can significantly reduce raised blood pressure. This quick and relatively painless procedure sees a catheter inserted into a vein, which then uses a short burst of radio waves to deactivate nerves in the kidneys. The researchers believe that this increases blood flow to the organs, reducing activity of the hormone renin, which has a link with raised blood pressure.

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This procedure of exposing the kidneys to radio waves shows that it is safe and effective in lowering blood pressure after implementing the treatment for a year, and poses no threat to the functioning of the kidneys and the heart. When an individual's blood pressure is higher than 140 over 90, it is termed as hypertension, and it is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Many drug treatments are available to bring high blood pressure under control, but many people who undertake such medication unfortunately are still not able to get it under control.

Professor Murray Esler in Melbourne, Australia, has shown that these patients can be helped with a zap to the kidneys. "Studies will soon determine whether this procedure can cure mild hypertension, producing permanent drug–free normalisation of blood pressure," he said. The procedure, which is minimally invasive, is known as catheter–based renal denervation. It involves the use of a probe passed through the femoral artery in the groin to fire short bursts of intense radio waves at nerves around the kidneys.

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The aim of this procedure is to basically destroy nerves that may be overactive in patients with hypertension. The researchers studied 82 patients with drug–resistant hypertension, who took part in the Symplicity HTN–2 trial. All the patients had blood pressure readings of 160 or higher and had taken three or more anti–hypertension drugs, while some had other conditions, including diabetes.

After treating the patients for six months with this procedure, systolic blood pressure was reduced by at least 10 millimetres of mercury in 83 per cent of one group of patients. Almost 79% of the same group was able to maintain such reductions for a year.

"Participants' kidneys were not damaged or functionally impaired. We also found no ill effects on long–term health," Professor Esler said.

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