Inside Heart Hospital of Austin, doctors are using a gadget to control high blood pressure. It’s an experimental procedure for those who've run out of options and hope.
“It’s the last chance I have of seeing next January,” patient Russ Gillenwater said.
Gillenwater is 52 years old, and has been on all kinds of medication for hypertension.
“I’m currently on nine meds, and five of them are the max dose,” he said.
Still, nothing works. His blood pressure is out of control, and he says this experimental procedure is his last chance.
“The catheter itself is a small tube, inserted through the groin, almost like a heart catheterization procedure” Dr. Frank Zidar said.
Once inserted, the catheter ablates the nerve which sends a signal to the kidneys to raise blood pressure.
“So by altering the connection between the brain and the kidneys, we can actually reduce people’s blood pressure,” Dr. Zidar said.
The experimental procedure is a first for the U.S. and Central Texas. People enrolled in the study have blood pressure that can't be controlled by medication.
Dr. Zidar says the treatment has been successful in Europe.
“People whose blood pressure was uncontrolled at 160, the top number of their blood pressure, at the end of the study, were coming home with blood pressures of 130,” he said.
Gillenwater said the procedure is a chance to try something new, something to give him hope and a new lease on life.
“I would like to see Christmas one more time,” he said.
Doctors say the treatment isn't a cure all, but, if successful, can cut down on the number of medications patients take.