INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – It's a common condition, but it remains a challenge to control. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a silent epidemic, affecting about half of all Americans. And of all the individuals being treated for hypertension, about a third of them have difficulty controlling it, even with multiple medications.
Yet there are significant benefits of controlling hypertension and maintaining a blood pressure at a healthy 120/80, including a reduced chance of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.
"For many patients a combination of a few drugs, including a diuretic, fit the bill," said Atul Chugh, MD, cardiologist with Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians (IHP). "But we need more treatment options."
That's why the clinical researchers at Franciscan Health and others across the country are participating in the nationwide research study called RADIANCE-HTN. The study is investigating the effectiveness of a minimally-invasive procedure using a catheter that targets nerves around the arteries leading to the kidneys. These nerves are known to carry the brain's stress messages to this area, and those stress signals - that old "flight or fight" message - can raise a person's blood pressure.
"Physicians have known for years that these stress messages, part of the sympathetic nervous system, can wreak havoc on any attempts to control blood pressure with medications or lifestyle changes," said Dr. Chugh. "The advantage of this new procedure is that it stops the nerves around the arteries leading to the kidneys from delivering those pressure-raising messages."
Like a cardiac catheterization, the procedure requires making a small incision in the patient's groin area to allow the cardiologist to place a catheter in a large artery in the leg. The catheter, equipped with a small ultrasound device, is guided up to the artery leading to the kidneys. The ultrasound emits tiny waves that target the nerves surrounding the artery to reduce their "overactivity." This "denervation" interrupts the sympathetic nervous system messages and keeps them from affecting the kidneys and raising blood pressure.
During the next few years, Franciscan Health will be enrolling qualifying patients in this study. Interventional cardiologists from IHP, specially trained for this study, will perform the procedure. Franciscan Health is the only center within several hundred miles participating in the study – the next closest center is in Cleveland, Ohio.
"We encourage patients from all of Indiana and beyond to participate," said Dr. Chugh. "The potential advantages of this study are truly exciting, and it will be more than worth the commitment of time and travel for those with hard-to-control hypertension."
Interested adults can see if they qualify for the study by filling out an online questionnaire at highbptrial.com. In general, qualified participants:
- Are between 18 and 75 years of age
- Have a resting blood pressure of 140/90 or higher, even with medications
- Are taking three or more medications for blood pressure
- Do not have Type 1 diabetes
- Do not have an active implantable medical device
For more details about the study, contact Timothy Brown, clinical research coordinator, at (317) 528-3419.
By Joe Stuteville
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