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Treating Kidneys With Radio Waves May Ease Tough-to-Control Hypertension
Date:12/17/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- For patients whose high blood pressure cannot be controlled despite taking several medications, a short burst of radio waves at the nerves around the kidneys may do the trick, a small new study says.

The treatment was effective for at least six months. The findings could be a significant step in treating people with resistant hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, the researchers said.

The technique -- called catheter-based renal denervation -- is minimally invasive. In it, doctors use a catheter inserted through the artery in the groin, which sends radio waves burning away nerve tissue around the arteries that feed the kidneys.

The procedure destroys nerves that help control and filter salt in the body and may be overactive in patients with high blood pressure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved its use.

The study was funded by medical device maker Medtronic. The findings were published Dec. 17 in the journal Circulation.

"This is a very promising approach for managing medication-resistant hypertension," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"High blood pressure is a major contributor to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and [kidney] failure," said Fonarow, who was not involved in the study. "Despite the availability of a number of effective medications, many patients with hypertension have not achieved adequate control of their blood pressure. There is thus an important, but currently unmet, need for additional therapies to effectively control hypertension."

For the study, an international team lead by Dr. Murray Esler, professor and senior director of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, assigned 35 patients t
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