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Implantable Device May Ease Tough-to-Treat Hypertension
Date:7/27/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- For people with high blood pressure that medication can't control, a new implantable device shows promise, researchers report.

The device, surgically placed just below the collarbone, sends a four- to six-volt electrical jolt to the carotid arteries. This is said to lower blood pressure through a process known as baroreflex activation therapy.

The device might help tackle a growing problem, said the lead author of the study, which was funded by CVRx Inc., the device's maker.

"We are seeing more patients with resistant hypertension these days," noted Dr. John D. Bisognano, who is a consultant for CVRx Inc. and a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of Rochester. "There are a lot of heavier people. There are a lot of diabetic people. We are also realizing that the available drug treatment can't solve the problem for everybody."

As he explained it, the pulses generated by the implant trick the body into thinking that blood pressure has spiked. In response, the body sends out regulators that cause blood pressure to fall.

The results of a new trial were presented in April at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans and are now being published in the July 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The phase 3 trial included 265 patients whose systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading) was high -- an average of 179 mmHg, according to Bisognano. He said the patients were hypertensive despite taking up to three blood pressure medications.

Blood pressure readings higher than 140/90 mmHg increase the risk of heart and kidney disease, stroke and death, experts note.

In one group of patients the device was activated one month after implantation, while in another group activation of the device was delayed for six months.

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