A new technique that removes the nerves that connect the brain and kidney has shown promise to reduce blood pressure and decrease the risk of stroke, heart and renal disease.
The procedure, which has very few side effects, has already shown promising results in hard-to-treat cases of high blood pressure.
The technique was performed by a team led by Professor Julian Paton at the University of Bristol who found that in an animal model of hypertension removing nerves connecting the kidney to the brain reduced blood pressure and improved its long-term stability.
Inspired by these results, cardiologists Dr Angus Nightingale and Dr Andreas Baumbach from the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) adopted the technique called 'renal denervation' to remove the nerves to the kidney in patients with high blood pressure.
The procedure, which has been successfully trialled on 19 patients at the BHI and is performed using a fine tube that is inserted in an artery in the patient's leg and positioned in the artery feeding blood to the patient's kidneys.
Dr Nightingale, who runs the Specialist Hypertension Clinic at the BHI, said: "This is an exciting new treatment for these patients who have struggled with high blood pressure which tablets are not controlling."