There’s new hope for people whose high blood pressure doesn’t respond to drugs, or for whom drugs cause side effects.
It’s an implantable cuff that treats hypertension, developed by University of Freiburg researchers.
The cuff has 24 electrodes, to be implanted in the vagal nerve, located in the neck.
The cuff determines which electrode is nearest the nerve fibers that send out the blood pressure signal, then overwrites this signal with electrostimulation. This procedure is called the BaroLoopTM.
The device has proven successful on rats, lowering their average blood pressure by 30 percent without side effects. This report appears in Journal of Neural Engineering.
The next step is to develop a version that can be implanted in people.
Update on Implantable Blood Pressure Cuff
In 2018 a patient in Long Island was the first in the Northeast U.S. to have an experimental device implanted in the upper thigh for controlling high blood pressure, say doctors at Northwell Health. Drugless blood pressure control is making headway.
The implant is called ROX Coupler and is smaller than a paper clip, and is designed as a drugless way to control hypertension that does not respond to drugs.
The research is headed by Mitchell Weinberg, MD. The design of drugless, implantable blood pressure control has been in the works for almost 10 years, initially developed by ROX Medical.
Blood Pressure Lowering Effect Discovered by Accident
ROX Medical’s original intent was to develop a device to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Doctors noticed that this COPD device had a nice side effect: lowering blood pressure. Research took off from there.
Where Exactly Is the Device Implanted?
The location is between the iliac artery and the iliac vein of the groin. The device causes the high pressure system in the iliac artery to get offloaded to the vein, resulting in lower blood pressure.
The coupler lowers BP by 30 millimeters, which is more than what drugs typically do.
Not a chance. The three patients in the experiment do not know whether or not they’ve had the device implanted. Only the surgeon who implants it knows: Dr. Weinberg.
Not even other researchers know. Only one patient had the implant.
The two other patients underwent a catheter-based blood vessel exam, during which the device was NOT implanted, and not to their knowledge.
This experiment is in the works for more patients.