Renal denervation, a minimally invasive surgery, can lower blood pressure (BP) that refuses to yield to drugs, according to a study.
The findings build on results released in 2010. It showed that six months of treating the arteries around the kidneys with radio waves lowered drug-resistant high BP.
Results show that risk of heart attack and stroke could be reduced by 40 percent.
Renal denervation involves inserting a catheter through an artery located near the groin. Once there, a tip at the end of the catheter emits a radio frequency to deactivate hyperactive sympathetic nerves in arteries that deliver blood supply to the kidneys. These nerves contribute to high BP, the journal Circulation reports.
Murray Esler, professor and senior director at the Melbourne-based Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, who led the study, said the findings could have significant public health implications in the treatment of resistant hypertension, which is often a cause for heart attack and stroke.
High BP is a major health problem worldwide, causing debilitating health problems and even sudden death. It is estimated that 30-40 percent of the population suffer from high BP and of that group, 15 percent are resistant to traditional therapies, according to the Heart Institute statement.
The results are drawn from Symplicity HTN-2, an ongoing, multi-centre, international study sponsored by device manufacturer Medtronic to evaluate renal denervation for the treatment of hypertension.
The study found that 83 percent of the treatment group experienced a drop in hypertension at six months, and nearly 79 percent of the group maintained such reductions at 12 months.
Critically, the study found that the participants' kidneys were not damaged or functionally impaired and there were no ill effects on long-term health from the procedure.
Esler commented: "Studies will soon determine whether this procedure can cure mild hypertension, producing drug-free normalisation of blood pressure".