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New Device Found to Lower Blood Pressure

Paper-clip-sized implant inserted in upper thigh

A paper-clip-sized implant device, known as the Coupler, has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure among patients with uncontrolled hypertension compared with patients treated with usual drug measures, according to research from Queen Mary University of London and published in The Lancet.

The device is inserted between the artery and vein in the upper thigh in a procedure lasting approximately 40 minutes under local anesthesia.

Researchers conducted a randomized, blinded trial in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension who had not responded to at least three types of drug therapy.

The team compared the effects of the Coupler device (n = 44) with those of usual medical treatment (n = 39). Patients treated with the Coupler device experienced a significant and durable reduction in blood pressure. The investigators also noted a reduced number of hypertensive complications and hospital admissions for hypertensive crises.

The Coupler also worked well in patients who had failed to respond to renal denervation (another new approach to treating hypertension), suggesting that the device targets different mechanisms of blood-pressure control, the authors reported. However, patients who had not been treated with renal denervation experienced the same level or more of blood pressure reduction. In addition, unlike renal denervation, treatment with the Coupler device is reversible, immediate, and pain-free.

Approximately 29% of the patients who received the device developed leg swelling that required treatment (usually a stent in the vein).

“It’s a little too early to begin applying these findings to routine clinical care at this stage,” said lead author Dr. Melvin Lobo. “We need more research to explore the long-term effects of the Coupler, better understand its safety, and understand more about how it works within the body. However, an international registry is commencing early this year, which means we will be able to continue offering patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure the option of Coupler treatment as long as conventional measures to get their blood pressure down to target have failed.”

Sources: Queen Mary University of London; January 23, 2015; and The Lancet; January 22, 2015.


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