A revolutionary 60-minute therapy for high blood pressure can enable patients to throw away their tablets for good.
The unlikely remedy is to blow up nerves in the kidneys with sound waves to prevent them from sending signals to the brain that drive up blood pressure.
It can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the biggest killers in Britain.
New research shows that the treatment, called kidney denervation, keeps high blood pressure at bay in nearly 60 percent of the volunteers.
More than a third can stop taking their prescribed medication altogether, while others can take fewer pills – which varies the risk of side effects, from diarrhea and dizziness to headache and fatigue.
The unlikely remedy is to blow up nerves in the kidneys with sound waves to prevent them from sending signals to the brain that drive up blood pressure. It can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the biggest killers in Britain (stock image)
In 2016, NHS England judged that there was insufficient evidence to make renal denervation widely available in health care.
It is not yet clear whether the new findings will lead to a change in that rule, but Professor Melvin Lobo, who led the research at Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, said the results could be treatment for high blood pressure transform.
He said: “This may soon be offered as an alternative to lifelong medication. We know from research that this type of treatment can be effective for at least three years.
“It’s too early to say it’s a permanent cure, but we certainly expect the benefits to be long-lasting.”
Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted by blood flow on the walls of the arteries. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart works to pump blood, which puts more strain on the muscle.
The elevated pressure also damages the blood vessel walls, making them susceptible to clotting, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in five adults in the UK and is thought to be responsible for half of all heart attacks and strokes.
It is estimated that more than half of all patients taking medication are still poorly controlled.
The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, with a long, thin tube, called a catheter, inserted into an artery in the groin. Shown is an image that shows how the process works
The kidneys remove toxins and waste products from the blood, which is excreted as urine. But they are also an integral part of regulating blood pressure and release an enzyme that interacts with other hormones in the body to cause blood vessels to contract. In healthy people, this raises blood pressure to normal levels, but if too much of the enzyme is released, blood pressure becomes permanently high.
By damaging the nerves in the kidneys, this process can be ‘turned off’, bringing blood pressure back to a manageable level.
The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, with a long, thin tube, called a catheter, inserted into an artery in the groin. Doctors use X-rays to navigate through the body until the end of the tube is close to the nerves in the walls of blood vessels attached to the kidney.
A thin wire is then passed through the catheter and at the push of a button energy-rich sound waves are generated to heat up and destroy the nerves in the firing line.
The entire process takes a little less than an hour because doctors usually have to zap at least half a dozen different points to destroy as many nerve endings as possible.
Patients can normally go home the same day.
There is a small risk of bleeding and bruising and the nerves can grow back, although they no longer send defective messages. Blood pressure will also continue to rise in times of stress or anxiety, but should return to a healthy level as it decreases.
Blood pressure (stock image) is a measure of the force exerted by blood flow on the walls of the arteries. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart works to pump blood, which puts more strain on the muscle
The latest study, published in the journal Circulation, looked at 140 British patients who failed to get better only with medication.
Six months after renal denervation, 58 percent still had healthy values due to a combination of nerve soap treatment and reduced dependence on daily pills.
The treatment also seems to improve the body’s response to medication. Almost 36 percent could have stopped taking tablets completely.
Neil Boughton, 59, from Watford, received treatment in December 2017 after years of suffering from high blood pressure.
Doctors noticed for the first time that he had high readings during routine medical checks when he was in his late thirties. His doctor prescribed daily tablets, but these made little or no difference.
In 2017, father-of-two Neil, who is a driver, saw an advertisement in a newspaper that recruited volunteers with a history of high blood pressure for a new clinical trial with renal denervation.
He said: “The procedure was relatively quick and painless. I use a very low dose of blood pressure medication, but more than a year later my measurements are still far within the healthy range.
“It has given me real peace of mind about my future heart health.”
Make your own wild garlic pesto
Unusual ingredients are often difficult to find, especially if you do not live near a well-stocked supermarket or shop online.
So I hope that people who live in more rural areas will find this recipe easily. It uses wild garlic, a green leafy plant with beautiful white flowers that grows in abundance in wooded areas, and even along the road at this time of the year.
Making your own pesto (photo) minimizes the unnecessary added salt that many brands contain. Personally I think it is simply delicious mixed in pasta or served as a dipping sauce
It is appreciated for its antibacterial properties and is even believed by natural health experts to lower blood pressure.
Making your own pesto minimizes the unnecessary added salt that many brands contain. Personally I think it is simply delicious mixed in pasta or served as a dipping sauce.
- 100 g wild garlic
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 50 g pine nuts
- 50 g Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
1. Chop the wild garlic into large pieces. This helps to mix it more evenly.
2. Add the garlic, a dash of oil and lemon juice to a food processor.
3. Whizz to a coarse sauce texture and then add the grated cheese.
4. Sift another minute and add oil until you are satisfied with the consistency.
By Frederick Faulkner