MELBOURNE, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- People who can't lower their high blood pressure with drugs may be helped by a procedure deactivating overactive kidney nerves, Australian researchers say.
The procedure is meant to treat people with a severe type of high blood pressure that's difficult to control, even with multiple medications.
People who develop resistant hypertension are at higher than average risks for strokes, heart attacks, kidney disease and heart failure. Resistant hypertension affects about 1-in-11 people who have high blood pressure, WebMD reported.
Dr. Murray Esler, senior director of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, said the procedure is done under local anesthesia. Doctors make a small incision in an artery near the groin and use it to thread a catheter up to the kidneys.
A machine then fires short bursts of radio waves to deaden the sympathetic nerves, Esler said.
"The sympathetic nerves are the stimulant nerves of the kidneys. They are commonly activated in high blood pressure," Esler said in a statement.
When the nerves are overactive, they cause the body to retain too sodium, which can increase blood pressure, the study said.
The study, published in the journal Circulation, found at the end of six months, people who got renal denervation saw their blood pressure drop from an average of 178/97 to 143/85, while people who kept getting usual care saw their high blood pressure climb slightly, Esler said.