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Radio beam "lowers blood pressure"

A new treatment has been developed that can lower blood pressure by targeting kidneys with a radio beam, it has been claimed.

Scientists found that the technique significantly improved the blood pressure of patients who had been unable to control it with numerous other drugs.

It is thought that the discovery could lead to a new way of managing high blood pressure, or hypertension, and help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The therapy deactivates renal nerves, which play a role in raising blood pressure, by blasting them with a burst of high-energy radio waves emitted from a catheter device.

The results of the treatment show that over six months, patients saw their blood pressure fall by an average 32 over 12 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).

The first figure is the systolic pressure which coincides with each heart beat. The second is the diastolic "resting" pressure between beats.

At the start of the international trial the patients had a blood pressure reading of 178 over 97 on average. A second "control" group given a "dummy" version of the treatment had the same blood pressure levels, which did not change significantly during the trial.

Study leader Professor Murray Esler, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute of Melbourne, Australia, said: "The impressive results show that this approach has the potential to become a truly revolutionary treatment."

Colleague Professor Alan Jardine, from the University of Glasgow, said: "This really is an incredibly promising study and the results are groundbreaking. It's the most exciting development in this field for many years."

A total of 106 patients took part in the Symplicity HTN-2 trial, which has been reported in an online edition of The Lancet medical journal.

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The Lancet