According to the CDC- 31.9% of adults over 20 years old are hypertensive. The American Heart Association equates that to 77.9 million, or 1 out of 3 adults. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” often has no warning signs or symptoms. The CDC also links high blood pressure to $131 billion annually in costs to direct medical expenses a year.
Common treatments for high blood pressure include life style changes such as more exercise and a low-fat diet as well as medication management. The American Heart Associates published an article, Antihypertensive Medical Use Among US Adults with Hypertension, stating that “The benefit of blood pressure reduction with antihypertensive drug treatment has become increasingly evident, with decreases in both all-cause mortality and coronary artery disease as shown by multiple clinical trials and epidemiological studies, with the greater absolute benefit in older patients”. However, there seems to be a new treatment in town to fight against the potentially deadly effects of high blood pressure.
Renal denervation, a procedure that uses a catheter to deliver radiofrequency energy to disrupt renal nerves to procedure large drops in blood pressure, is being studied in clinical trials led by St. Jude Medical Center and Medtronic.
Past studies have been designed to draw conclusions at reducing blood pressure in subjects with uncontrolled or resistant hypertension. A new study announced by St. Jude digs deeper-asking- does this minimally invasive surgery correlate with a reduction in other diseases related to hypertension, such as heart attack, stroke and death? If this procedure is found to be safe and effective, it may allow for patients to give up medical therapy entirely.
This presents a thought provoking situation- Could medical devices one day replaces pharmaceutical drugs?
An article published last year in the Wall Street Journal took this interesting idea and touched on areas where the approach is being used with success. Interestingly enough, the article talks about a renal denervation device which had big success and launch the medical device company into merger agreement with Medtronic. The WSJ article noted that many pharmaceutical companies also mid on the smaller medical device company “because the therapy had the potential to replace drugs”.
Do you think that subjects would be more willing to undergo this procedure than take medications if it meant long term effectiveness? What other types of minimally invasive procedures may be on the horizon for medical devices that will lead to less pharmaceutical life long treatments? Share your thoughts below!
Photo Credit: Marionzetta