A minimally-invasive procedure that targets the nerves near the kidney has been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in hypertension patients, according to the results of a global multicentre clinical trial led in the UK by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust.

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The study, published in The Lancet and presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting, suggests that the procedure could offer hope to patients with high blood pressure who do not respond to recommended treatments (resistant hypertension), and are at greatly increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack.

The international clinical trial tested a one-hour procedure called ‘renal denervation’, which uses ultrasound energy to disrupt the nerves between the kidneys and the brain that carry signals for controlling blood pressure.

The study investigated 136 patients who were randomised to receive either renal denervation or a ‘sham procedure’ - the surgical equivalent of a placebo. The UK trial site at St Bartholomew’s Hospital was the largest patient recruiter in the world, with patients also taking part in the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

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