Researchers are working on a drug-free approach to normalising high blood pressure linked to stroke, heart and kidney diseases.

The Symplicity trial tests a minimally invasive procedure known as renal denervation. The experimental procedure uses heat that is generated by radio frequency to disrupt nerve communication to and from the kidneys.

This can reduce hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system, a frequent cause of chronic high BP.

“The sympathetic nervous system controls blood pressure and can cause hypertension initiated by life and stress,” said David L. Brown, principal investigator at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, US.

“This investigational device is being tested to determine if it will disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which may significantly lower blood pressure, stop multiple anti-hypertensive medications, and have an effect on other conditions affected by the sympathetic nervous system,” added Brown, according to a Baylor statement.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). A pressure at or less than 120/80 is considered healthy.

“In previous studies of this device in limited numbers of people, this simple procedure reduced patients’ blood pressure by an average of about 30 mmHg, a reduction that persisted throughout subsequent assessments,” said Sonia Parashar, research coordinator at The Heart Hospital.

Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital also is participating in the study.

“Improving blood pressure has a profound effect on longevity and reducing the risk of stroke,” said James W. Choi, primary investigator for the Symplicity trial at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital.

“Catheter-based renal denervation is an exciting, investigational treatment for patients with resistant hypertension who otherwise might not be able to be helped,” added Choi.

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