A new research has revealed that a device developed to treat people with resistant hypertension helped lower blood pressure by 33 points, a substantial drop that would otherwise require patients to take an additional three or four drugs.
The device, called the Rheos System, is the first to be tested in a large-scale clinical trial for the treatment of hypertension and works by activating the body’s natural blood flow regulation mechanism to reduce high blood pressure.
The pivotal trial included 265 patients with resistant hypertension treated at 40 medical centers in the United States and two in Europe, and is the latest in a series of studies that have shown the device is beneficial.
People who do not respond to the typical treatment regimen for high blood pressure, which includes one to three medications, coupled with improved nutrition and exercise, have resistant hypertension. These patients are at a far greater risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and death, which is why new therapies like Rheos are needed.
“Current drugs and lifestyle modifications can only do so much. I treat a huge number of people who are doing everything right – taking their medications, maintaining a healthy diet, working out – and they still develop resistant hypertension,” said John Bisognano, a lead study investigator from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The Rheos System, developed by CVRx Inc. of Minneapolis, regulates blood pressure much like a pacemaker regulates heart rhythm. A battery-powered implantable generator is inserted under the skin near the collarbone and two leads, or wires, run from the generator to the carotid arteries, the two main arteries that supply blood to the head. The device triggers specific receptors on these arteries, known as carotid baroreceptors – key regulators of blood flow in the body.
These receptors then send signals that are interpreted by the brain as a rise in blood pressure. The body responds to this phantom rise in blood pressure by taking action to lower it, including relaxing the blood vessels and reducing the heart rate.
“The device lowers blood pressure in a way that actually benefits patients beyond changing their numbers – it improves the structure of the heart which in turn improves overall cardiac function,” said Bisognano.
The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Sessions.