London: A simple operation which could effectively cure high blood pressure is being tested on patients in Britain.
The breakthrough treatment could save thousands of lives each year after the trials showed a substantial and permanent reduction in blood pressure and a decrease in drugs needed.
It is hoped the technique will end the need for powerful drugs and help many patients come off daily medication completely.
Cardiologists in London and Eastbourne carried out the first half-hour operations using the keyhole process last month and hailed the results as "exciting" after patients experienced an immediate reduction in extremely high blood pressure.
Dr Neil Sulke, a cardiologist at Eastbourne General Hospital, said, "This operation holds the promise of a meaningful long-term reduction of high blood pressure in patients whose blood pressure isn`t controlled by their medication."
Mel Lobo, director of the Barts Hypertension Clinic in London, added, "This is a very exciting trial which, if successful, has the potential to expand our array of non-drug therapies for resistant or uncontrolled hypertension. In the long run it could benefit an even wider range of patients with hypertension ."
"One might speculate that such treatment may even herald a new era of device-based therapy in which patients may ultimately be freed from the need to take high blood pressure drugs on a daily basis lifelong," she said.
The tests are aimed at significantly improving blood pressure levels in patients who have failed to get their blood pressure under control despite taking three or more drugs.
The trial at The London Chest Hospital, which is run by Barts Health NHS Trust, involves a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure without the need for a general anaesthetic which places a small device known as a Rox Coupler to divert blood from an artery to a vein in the upper thigh.
It has led to a massive and permanent reduction in blood pressure.