A simple operation that removes a group of nerves in an artery on the throat could regulate high blood pressure in millions of people, scientists believe.
High blood pressure affects more than 15 million people in the UK
The procedure focuses on the throat where blood flow is that fastest and could be used to help almost 2.5 million people in the UK who develop high blood pressure and cannot not treated with medication.
The study was led by Professor Julian Paton and published in the journal Nature Communications. The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation.
The small collection of cells no bigger than a grain of rice was identified by researchers at Bristol’s School of Physiology and Pharmacology. This collection is located on either side of the carotid artery which has the highest blood flow of all the organs in the body.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects more than 15 million adults in the UK and can be caused by smoking and drinking.
The theory is based on the belief that this organ is over active in people suffering from high blood pressure. This artery then sends transmissions to the brain instructing it to keep blood pressure high.
Previous experiments on rats show that removing one of the organs cured high blood pressure and a clinical test of 20 humans is underway. If clinical trials are successful the operation could be in mainstream hospitals within three years.
Prof Paton admitted scientists knew very little about the impact organs have on blood pressure. He said: “It certainly has the potential to be a very novel approach to drug-resistant hypertension.”
Most cases of hypertension react well to medication and can be controlled using current methods, however an estimated 2.5 million people with high blood pressure do not respond to medication.
This method will not be used instead of medication if it proves successful but will be used on the 15% of hypertension sufferers who do not react to medication effectively.
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