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New Treatment Available for High Blood Pressure

March 18, 2024

High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hypertension costs the US about $131 billion a year. With nearly half of the adult population in the US living with hypertension, the introduction of a new Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for the condition is exciting news.

“Over the past 50 to 60 years, at least 10 different classes of medications have been developed to treat hypertension, and high blood pressure treatment has been limited to those medicines for several decades,” says Kamal Gupta, MD, co-director of the complex hypertension program at The University of Kansas Health System.

For the first time in decades, there is a new way to treat high blood pressure, called renal denervation." Kamal Gupta, MD

Despite the many medications that have been approved by the FDA to treat high blood pressure, hypertension is poorly controlled in almost 3 of every 4 people who have it. Many patients struggle with side effects and may be unable to take many of these medications. Poorly controlled hypertension remains a significant modifiable cause of stroke and cardiovascular death.

“For the first time in decades, there is a new way to treat high blood pressure, called renal denervation,” says Dr. Gupta. “In renal denervation, high blood pressure is addressed through the kidneys, as the kidneys play an integral role in regulating blood pressure.”

The wall of the artery that provides blood to the kidneys has a plexus of nerves that send blood pressure signals back and forth between the kidneys and the brain. In most patients with high blood pressure, this signaling between brain and kidneys through the nerves goes haywire and the blood pressure messages are not relayed correctly.

“In this procedure, we are able to use an intravascular method, similar to a heart catheterization, and use controlled and measured burns to stun the nerves on the kidney artery permanently,” Dr. Gupta says. “Over the past 20 years or so, there have been many studies done on this procedure.”

This procedure can help many people with hypertension, although most of those who have this procedure will still need to be on some medication.

“Our hope is that this will be an additional tool that doctors will have to help their patients better control their high blood pressure,” Dr. Gupta says.

The complex hypertension program at The University of Kansas Health System is led by Sri Yarlagadda, MD, nephrologist, and Kamal Gupta, MD, cardiologist, and evaluates and treats patients with hypertension that is hard to control.

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