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Implantable Device May Lower Tough-to-Treat Hypertension
Date:4/5/2011

TUESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- For people with hard-to-control blood pressure, 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 researchers were scheduled to present their findings Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.

"People with resistant hypertension -- high blood pressure that doesn't respond to multi-drug therapy and lifestyle changes -- are a growing group, and they're in desperate need of additional treatments," study lead author Dr. John D. Bisognano, professor of medicine in the cardiology division of the University of Rochester, said in a meeting news release.

"This system is safe, and its effect is as good as two or three drugs for people who are already taking five or six drugs and still can't control their hypertension," said Bisognano, who is also a consultant for CVRx, Inc., the device's maker, which funded the study.

The pulses generated by the device trick the body into thinking that blood pressure has spiked. In response, the body sends out regulators that cause blood pressure to fall, the researchers explain in the news release.

For this phase 3 study (typically conducted before submitting a device for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), the device was implanted in 265 patients with high blood pressure (readings over 160/80 mmHg) recruited from centers in the United States and Europe. All of the patients had been taking three or more blood pressure medications, including a diuretic, but their hypertension remained uncontrolled.

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

The patients wer
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