For most, hypertension can be treated with drug therapy and lifestyle changes. But a growing number of people are now developing what the medical community calls “resistant hypertension.” People with this condition can’t lower their blood pressure no matter what kind of therapy they try. It’s very good news, then, that researchers at the University of Rochester have developed what could rightly be called a health breakthrough: for people with hard-to-control blood pressure, a new implantable device may be the help they have been looking for.
How the Implantable Device Is Said to Lower Blood Pressure: Baroreflex Activation Therapy
The device, surgically placed just below the collarbone, sends a four- to six-volt electrical jolt to the carotid arteries. This is said to lower blood pressure through a process known as “baroreflex activation therapy.” Here’s what happens: the pulses generated by the device trick your body into thinking that blood pressure has spiked. In response, the body sends out regulators that cause blood pressure to fall. A nifty solution to a challenging problem.
If it sounds a little alarming to send an electrical jolt through your carotid arteries, the researchers say the system is safe, and its effect is as good as taking five or six blood pressure drugs.
The researchers tested the device on a group of patients with high blood pressure. The patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups, with both groups taking about the same number of medications. One group received the baroreflex activation therapy device with activation for a full 12 months. In the other group, the device was programmed to start operating at six months.
The researchers found that reductions in systolic blood pressure after 12 months were at least 50% of those seen at six months. Both groups saw their diastolic blood pressure (the lower number in a reading) drop as well. And one more thing: patients experienced a decrease in left ventricular mass. According to the researchers, chronic hypertension enlarges the heart’s left ventricle.
You may not have resistant hypertension, but getting your blood pressure checked regularly is still something you should do. You can book an appointment and get your doctors advice about your blood pressure reading. In general, readings should fall between the normal range listed — usually at or below 120/80 (systolic/diastolic).
Remember that your nutrition health is a risk factor for hypertension. Salt intake is a big culprit. Certain drugs and medications can also increase your blood pressure. And, finally, medical conditions that affect your kidneys, such as diabetes, can raise blood pressure levels. This is because your kidneys are regulators of long-term blood pressure.