Royal London is first NHS hospital using implants to treat blood pressure
- Credit: Barts NHS
Hospital patients are getting an implant for the first time on the NHS that could save the lives of people with uncontrollable high blood pressure.
The Blood Pressure clinic at the Royal London Hospital yesterday became the first in the country to give two NHS patients a Barostim Neo device which monitors and regulates the body’s blood cells.
“The treatment if successful could mean new hope for treating high blood pressure when other therapies have failed,” consultant physician Dr Melvin Lobo explained.
“I hope the treatment will lead to a reduction in the dangerous risks these patients live with every day and free them from the huge restrictions from uncontrollable hypertension that often forces them to stop working or prevent them caring for their children.”
The Barostim therapy uses a pulse generator, slightly larger than a £2 coin, implanted in the chest under the skin like a pacemaker, which is connected to a lead located next to the carotid artery in the neck. It is inserted while the patient is under anaesthetic in surgery lasting just one hour.
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The device is tuned to the body’s natural cardiovascular control system to send signals to the brain to reduce blood pressure specific to each patient’s needs, by relaxing the blood vessels, slowing the heart rate and reducing body fluid.
The two patients treated at the Royal London in Whitechapel both have dangerously severe resistant hypertension which has not responded to drug treatment.
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Mother-of-two Claire Hawkes, 42, had a heart attack two years ago caused by her extreme high blood pressure.
“I often feel completely drained, breathless with severe headaches and chest pains,” she says. “If I’m able to get even a quarter of my life back, then I’ll consider this surgery a success.”
Around 16 million people suffer high blood pressure in the UK, three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, with the risk of dying double to those with normal blood pressure. An estimated four per cent of the adult population have resistant hypertension, a severe form of high blood pressure that cannot be controlled with drugs.