Blood Pressure

Reporter: Jacqui Quist

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a silent killer, a condition that claims more than nine million lives worldwide each year.

One in three Australians aged 30 to 65 are affected by hypertension or high blood pressure and many may not even know it.

Professor Henry Krum from Monash University, a foremost expert on hypertension, says 40 per cent of the adult population have the disease.

"I would call that an epidemic," Professor Krum said.

"The risk of heart attack and stroke is directly related to the magnitude of the excess blood pressure."

Renal denervation is a possible procedure for patients with hypertension or high blood pressure where medication don't work. It is a simple, quick and relatively painless procedure, which severs the nerves that drive up blood pressure.

Professor Krum says it's a safe procedure with very few early or late complications.

"It involves a placement of a catheter through the artery in the groin. The interventionist doesn't go to the heart, it goes as far as the kidney artery. Then energy or heat is applied to those nerves that run alongside the main kidney artery, and it does it on both sides," he explained.

"By disrupting that nerve traffic, it disrupts the signals that cause blood pressure to be worsened."

The procedure is mainly aimed at patients whose blood pressure lowering medication don't work. A clinical trial has found that 88 renal denervation patients had reduced blood pressure, which stayed down for at least three years.

However, Professor Krum says many patients may still require some medication.

"If we lower blood pressure 20 or 30mm, which is what this procedure does, then that will reduce stroke and heart attack in a pretty consistent way," he said.

For more information:

If you have high blood pressure, even though you are on blood pressure lowering medication, or have heart failure and you are interested in renal denervation please call Clinical Pharmacology at the Alfred Hospital on (02) 9076 3084

http://www.alfred.org.au/