Scientists have developed a paper clip-sized device called the Coupler, which can help in controlling high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is very common in humans and it is very dangerous as well. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that one in three adults in the country, or about 67 million people, suffer from high blood pressure. Moreover, only 47 percent of the high blood pressure patients have it under control.
High blood pressure can also lead to other medical conditions such as stroke or heart diseases. People are four times more likely to die of stroke and three times more likely to die of heart diseases when their blood pressure is high. The annual estimated cost associated with high blood pressure is more than $51 billion in the U.S.
Dr. Melvin Lobo, who is the principal investigator and lead author of the study at the Queen Mary University, says that the Coupler is a promising new device for high blood pressure treatment.
"Existing drugs focus on hormonal or neurological regulation of blood pressure, and newer treatments such as renal denervation are uniquely centered on the renal nervous system. The Coupler effectively targets the mechanical aspects of how blood circulation works - so it's a totally new approach to controlling blood pressure," says Dr. Lobo.
The Coupler has been developed by ROX Medical and has to be implanted between the vein and the artery in the upper thigh. The implant procedure lasts for about 40 minutes and the device starts acting just after being inserted and lowers blood pressure by around 15 percent without the use of any drugs.
The Coupler device highlights the importance of arterial stiffness as a major cause of resistant high blood pressure, with Lobo saying it targets that issue successfully. Researchers found a side effect in that 29 percent of patients who received the Coupler developed swelling in their leg, which required another short procedure to correct, usually to install a stent in the vein.
Blood pressure can be lowered with the help of daily medication; however, in many cases drugs do not work. Researchers found that in clinical trials the Coupler was able to lower blood pressure even in patients in whom drugs had not worked.
The study involved 83 participants and 44 of them had the Coupler inserted in their thigh. Other participants received drugs to control blood pressure. The researchers found that people who had the Coupler experienced substantial reduction of blood pressure in comparison with those who were on medication.
The study also found that people who used the Coupler also experienced reduced problems linked to blood pressure-related medical conditions such as heart diseases and strokes.
Lobo said the Coupler is estimated to be commercially available in the next five years.