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health Easing the pressure

August 23, 2018

STAMFORD — When Vincent Cashyn was diagnosed with high blood pressure about 10 years ago, he began changing his lifestyle.

The 61-year-old Stamford man needed to lose weight, so he began swimming at the Tully Center. He also started eating more vegetables, including broccoli and taking medication, all to treat his hypertension.

High blood pressure affects one in three American adults, with symptoms ranging from chest pain to heart disease and stroke.

But a new experiment could make treatment easier.

Stamford Hospital is the only Connecticut facility participating in the international RADIANCE-HTN study, which investigates whether renal denervation can reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension.

Dr. David HSi, Stamford Hospital’s chief of cardiology and principal investigator of the trial, said the results have shown inserting a balloon into the renal artery reduces nerve activity there, alleviating hypertension by causing the artery to send fewer signals through the body.

Hsi said a catheter previously had been used to denervate the renal artery, but the balloon allows for a more even application.

“The theory behind this is the renal artery sends too many signals,” Hsi said. “These patients, despite their medications, might not have (previously) seen a response.”

The simple procedure requires minimal anesthesia and only a few hours recovery. A small catheter with a balloon is inserted into the renal artery and ultrasound heat energy is sent through the tissue. The process disrupts the signaling of renal nerves, reducing blood pressure to the kidneys.

Hsi said the procedure has had few complications. Most patients with high blood pressure take several medications each day, but the trial has shown 24 percent of patients stayed off their medications two months after treatment.

“Many patients hope not to take medications the rest of their lives,” Hsi said. “If they reduce their medications three to one, that’s a huge value.”

The hospital is entering its second arm of the trial after administering its first treatment 16 months ago. Once the procedure is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be available to patients everywhere.

The study is open to patients with a documented history of hypertension between the ages of 18 and 75. Some patients may receive a placebo. Their blood pressure is then tracked for 36 months to examine the results. Patients who received the placebo are eligible for the treatment after six months.

“We’ve enrolled a lot of patients,” said Suzanne Rose, director of office research at Stamford Hospital. “This momentum kept going.”

To sign up for the trial, visit https://highbptrial.com/

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @https://highbptrial.com/erin_kayata

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