New technology for highly resistant hypertension

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pretoria - A new technology and treatment initiative for highly resistant hypertension patients has been launched at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital's Cardiology Unit.

The initiative, known as renal denervation, is the first treatment of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.

Renal denervation is a procedure whereby the renal nerves are disrupted using radiofrequency. The procedure involves a guiding catheter being inserted via the groin into the femoral artery; the guiding catheter is then advanced up to the aorta and the renal arteries.

Three patients with highly resistant hypertension underwent the procedure at the hospital on Tuesday and the procedure was shown to be effective, safe and durable.

Dr Chris Zambakides, who is a leading cardiologist, said that with renal denervation, they would be able to do that bit extra for patients in order to better control their BP, thereby decreasing their risk of serious complications, including death.

"Patients with resistant hypertension experience high blood pressure despite being on different classes of anti-hypertensive drugs. Treatment options in these patients are largely limited to increasing the dosage or the number of anti-hypertensive drugs, often leading to unwanted side effects," said Zambakides.

He stressed that the renal denervation procedure was not a first-line therapy and it was currently only used in patients who met the criteria and were highly resistant.

Hypertension is a major cause for morbidity and mortality in both developing and developed countries.

Epidemiological studies have shown that there is a large percentage of hypertensive patients that are not diagnosed. Even more alarming is that less than 50 percent are treated to target BP levels.