Landmark trial at John Hunter Hospital reduces blood pressure

Nov 23 2010

A landmark medical trial has discovered a catheter-based treatment to patients’ kidneys can result in significant reductions in blood pressure.

A study published in the medical journal, The Lancet this week has revealed that targeting the sympathetic nerves leading into and out of the kidneys can substantially lower blood pressure for patients who have hypertension that is not adequately controlled with medications.

Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital was one 24 centres worldwide to participate in the study under lead investigator, Dr Suku Thambar, a senior staff specialist in cardiology and conjoint senior lecturer.

“We are pleased to have been a part of this ground-breaking research and are happy that, by being enrolled in the trial, Hunter patients have benefitted from a new therapy which has improved their blood pressure,” Dr Thambar said.

The study, called Symplicity HTN-2, randomized 106 patients in Europe and Australia and showed that, after six months, patients receiving the catheter based treatment experienced a significant drop in blood pressure compared to an increase in the control group of patients treated with medical therapy alone.

“The impressive results of this study show our catheter therapy has the potential to become a novel treatment,” Dr Thambar said.

“Combined with findings from an earlier study which demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the therapy out to two years, these results indicate the potential of this treatment to significantly impact the standard of care for the large number of patients suffering from hypertension.”

Research has shown that incremental increases of blood pressure above normal levels is associated with a doubling of cardiovascular mortality over a 10 year period and that slight reductions in systolic blood pressure can reduce the risk of stroke by almost 30 per cent.

The study also found that the therapy was safe, with no serious device or procedure-related events, no cardiovascular complications and no kidney-related complications.

Dr Thambar worked in collaboration with co-investigators Dr Ranjith Nanra, Dr Siva Rajaratnam and Dr Liz Holt. The study was a collaboration between the nephrology , radiology and cardiology departments at JHH.