Blasting nerves to battle high blood pressure

Around one billion people around the world have uncontrolled high blood pressure, and it’s a problem that medication cannot solve for many. Now for the first time, a procedure exists that is zapping away the common condition in those afflicted.

Carl Youngberg is a man of many titles—author, garden enthusiast, art collector—but one in particular he says he would like to drop: high blood pressure patient. Carl has lived with the condition since he was nine, and after finding that medications have failed to control it over the years, he has enrolled in a clinical trial to test renal denervation.

“This is the first change in 100 years in the treatment of high blood pressure,” said Dr. David Brown, Co-director of Cardiovascular Research at the Baylor Plano heart hospital.

The idea of the trial is to target overactive renal nerves that can cause blood pressure to soar. The nerves transmit information from the kidneys to the brain, so doctors insert a needle into a patient’s artery in the groin and burn the nerves.

According to Dr. Cara East, a cardiologist the results are good.

"We take off some of that overdrive, and people feel better, and their blood pressure drops, on average, 30 points,” Dr. East adds.

So far it seems to be most effective for people with resistant high blood pressure, like Carl. Because Carl is in a double blind trial he does not know if he received the therapy, but he says he is hopeful.

"I'd like to find normal to be honest with you that would, a new normal for me would be wonderful,” Carl says.

At its highest level, Carl’s blood pressure registered 203/84, but the last time he checked it was only 160/74.

Renal denervation is already approved in countries including Canada, Australia and several more in Europe. Doctors in the U.S. believe it could be F.D.A. approved in two to three years. Risks of the treatment are rare but include infections and blood clots.


REPORT: MB# 3589

BACKGROUND: High blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, coronary heart disease, and many other health problems. Blood pressure is the tension of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. One in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. People can have it for years and not even know it. However, through time it can damage the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and other parts of the body. (Source:

BLOOD PRESSURE NUMBERS: Blood pressure is measured as diastolic and systolic. Diastolic refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Systolic is when the heart beats while pumping blood. More commonly, blood pressure numbers are written with the systolic number before or above the diastolic number, like 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure levels in adults are 120/80. Prehypertension levels are 120-139/80-89. High blood pressure in stage 1 can range from 140-159/90-99. High blood pressure in stage 2 can range from 160 or higher/100 or higher. Blood pressure levels are usually not consistent. It can lower while sleeping and rise when awaking. It can rise from being excited, active, or nervous. If numbers stay in the prehypertension level, then the risk of developing high blood pressure increases. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: People who have high blood pressure can take steps to control it and reduce the risk for other health problems. Lifestyle changes go a long way when controlling high blood pressure, but sometimes that's not enough. Medications are generally prescribed by doctors to lower it, but depending on the stage and the patient's general health medications may not be an option. One of the body's methods for controlling blood pressure involves the sympathetic nervous system. It includes the major organs responsible for regulating blood pressure. The kidney plays a major role in regulating blood pressure. Renal nerves communicate information from the kidney to the brain. People with hypertension have hyperactive renal nerves, which raises blood pressure. Renal Denervation treatment is in clinical trials to learn whether renal denervation is safe and effective. The Simplicity HTN-3 clinical trial will attempt to disrupt the hyperactive nerves by applying radio frequency energy near the nerves with an experimental medical device. A single procedure inserts a tube in the groin and places the device in the artery leading to the kidney. Multiple treatments are performed in each artery to disrupt the hyperactive nerves. After treatment, the device is removed. To find out if you are a candidate for this trial, visit to take a short survey. (Source:

Bottom of Form

Susan Hall
Media Relations Manager
Baylor Health Care System
(214) 820-1817

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 195075511 -