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New Device May Replace Blood Pressure Medication

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Posted: 2/4/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Physicians at The Ohio State University Medical Center are leading a new clinical trial to treat hypertension by implanting a medical device that stimulates the body’s own natural system to lower blood pressure.

The trial will test a new treatment for patients who can no longer control their high blood pressure with medications and lifestyle modifications. If successful, the implant could be another important tool for helping people treat their hypertension, according to Dr. Randy Wexler, co-investigator of the study.

A pulse generator box is implanted under the collarbone, which electrically triggers the body’s own blood pressure monitoring system: the baroreceptors.

“This particular device sends signals to the brain which are interpreted as a rise in blood pressure. In turn, the brain responds by telling other parts of the body to reduce blood pressure,” said Wexler, a family medicine physician at OSU Medical Center.

Dr. Jean Starr, director of endovascular services at OSU Medical Center and co-investigator of the study, said the device is a unique way of allowing the body to control its blood pressure naturally.

“Because poorly controlled blood pressure leads to serious complications including heart attack, kidney failure and stroke, we need another option for patients who are resistant to anti-hypertension medications.”

OSU Medical Center is one of 24 institutions in the country participating in the FDA-approved research. To qualify for the trial, patients must have persistent high blood pressure despite aggressive treatment with medications.

The study will conclude one year after participants have received the implant.

About 65 million people in the United States suffer from hypertension and 25 percent have uncontrolled blood pressure, despite the use of medications. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, mobidity and mortality, and is estimated to cause one in every eight deaths worldwide.

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Jennifer Marin
Medical Center Communications

Clinical/Translational Research; OSU Medical Center