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Can renal denervation lower blood pressure?

Measuring blood pressure

I’ve recently read how renal denervation can lower blood pressure. My GP says my blood pressure is still too high. Can I be referred for this treatment?

Professor Jeremy Pearson says:

This treatment, performed under local anaesthetic, involves placing a small tube called a catheter into an artery in the groin. The catheter is passed up into the artery that supplies blood to the kidney, and positioned near the nerves that surround the artery (these are important in controlling blood pressure). There is a short, focused release of high energy from the catheter that destroys these nerves.

Renal denervation won't work for everyone and it's not yet known whether the benefits will be long term

In the first trial using this procedure, about half of those treated found that their blood pressure fell to almost normal levels during the follow-up period. NICE (the UK body giving guidance on medical treatment) has cautiously welcomed this result, but stressed that patients will still need to continue taking their blood-pressure-lowering tablets.

Renal denervation won't work for everyone and it's not yet known whether the benefits will be long term. Currently, only a few specialist centres can carry out the procedure. It's recommended that it should only be offered to people who are unable to lower their blood pressure by improving their lifestyle and taking medicines.

This treatment should not be considered an alternative to blood pressure medication, but it may be a means of making blood pressure more responsive to the medicine. Speak to your GP to find out more information.

Read our feature about the latest research into high blood pressure and how it is caused

Jeremy PearsonMeet the expert

Professor Jeremy Pearson is Associate Medical Director (Research) at the BHF where he co-ordinates the funding for our life saving research. He’s a faculty member at King’s College London and spends up to a day a week there for research and teaching.

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