Investigational procedure may help treat resistant hypertension


Despite treatment with multiple blood pressure medications, many people are still searching for a way to control their blood pressure. There’s now a clinical trial of a new, investigational therapy that could help revolutionize how doctors treat patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

“Hypertension is very prevalent in our society and can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure,” said Dr. Keith Benzuly, cardiologist and principal investigator of the study conducted at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Unfortunately, some patients are resistant to therapy with medications, but this new, minimally invasive procedure gives us hope for a new way of helping our patients.”

The procedure is called renal denervation, which involves a catheter-based probe that delivers low-level radiofrequency energy through the wall of the blood vessel to the kidney to disrupt the nerves leading into and out of the kidneys. Patients who have hypertension may have hyperactive renal nerves, which increase blood pressure. By deactivating the renal nerves, a significant reduction in blood pressure may be achieved.

“We’re very excited about this technology,” Benzuly said. “It has the potential to help a large number of patients with uncontrolled blood pressure.”

Research suggests that up to 10 percent of patients who are treated for hypertension are considered resistant to treatment. These patients have a major increase in the risk of cardiovascular issues compared with individuals with controlled high blood pressure.

Patients interested in being part of the trial must be between 18 and 80-years-old, have a systolic blood pressure greater than 160 despite taking at least three medications at full tolerated doses, and not have severe kidney failure. Renal denervation is being marketed and clinically used in Europe. It is currently considered an investigative therapy in the United States.

For more information about the Symplicity HTN-3 Trial, call Northwestern’s clinical trials unit at (312) 926-0840. For more information about Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, visit online at, or to schedule an appointment, call (312) 926-0779.

Almost one in three U.S. adults — an estimated 59 million — has high blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease.

— Northwestern Memorial Hospital