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Devices have recently been developed for treating drug-resistant hypertension and the Human Neurotransmitters laboratory has been actively involved in this research. Failure to achieve target BP is common, in 50 per cent or more of patients in some national surveys. True drug resistance, to multiple prescribed blood pressure lowering drugs is less than this, approximately 10 per cent. In drug-resistant hypertension the outlook is worse than if blood pressure control is achieve by treatment.

Recognition that activation of the sympathetic nervous system, a stimulant division of the autonomic (automatic) nervous system is important in the development of hypertension, led to the targeting of this sympathetic activation with an antiadrenergic device. This is the renal artery radiofrequency denervation catheter, which ablates (permanently silences) the renal sympathetic nerves by emitting radio waves. The laboratory was a pioneer in this research; the procedure, called “Renal Denervation”, was first tested in Melbourne. The catheter is placed in both kidney arteries via a leg artery, using local anaesthesia to numb the skin at the point of insertion.

The laboratory is now recruiting patients with difficult to control, resistant hypertension, whose blood pressure is not controlled on three or more blood pressure lowering drugs, for a trial of this one-off procedure. If you have resistant hypertension you may be eligible to take part. Eligible participants will receive a series of thorough medical examinations. Our hope is that this treatment will one day be standard medical practice, for the treatment of severe high blood pressure.