Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Procedure May Lower Hard-to-Treat Hypertension

Study Shows Experimental Therapy Using Radiofrequency May Be Useful for High Blood Pressure
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 28, 2011 -- An experimental procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to lower blood pressure may help millions of people with uncontrolled hypertension, a study suggests.

The findings will be presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

During the procedure, called therapeutic renal denervation, a catheter-based probe that uses radiofrequency energy silences certain nerve fibers near the kidney. These are the small nerves that carry signals back and forth from the brain and kidney, and help regulate blood pressure levels.

Six months after silencing these fibers, study participants with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure had significant improvement of their blood pressure readings.

Findings from the study were first published in The Lancet in 2010.

With the experimental procedure, “we can lower the number of drugs a person needs to take and have better control of blood pressure and prevent major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and renal failure,” says study researcher Marc R. Sapoval, MD, PhD, a professor of clinical radiology and chair of the cardiovascular radiology department at Hopital Europeen Georges-Pompidou in Paris. “In the US, there are 45 million people with high blood pressure, and half of them are not well-controlled, so this procedure has huge potential.”

Reduction in Blood Pressure

Of 106 people whose blood pressure was not controlled with at least three drugs, 39% of the participants who received the new treatment achieved the recommended blood pressure level and 50% showed a measurable benefit after six months.

Specifically, systolic pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) fell by an average of 32 points and diastolic pressure (the lower number in a blood pressure reading) fell by an average of 12 points, the study shows.

There were no procedure-related complications reported in this trial, but some studies have shown an increased risk of renal artery damage, Sapoval says.

Now researchers plan to study the experimental procedure in larger numbers of people for longer periods of time.

“The first message is to take your blood pressure pills appropriately, and if your blood pressure is not controlled by taking three drugs, the new procedure may be an option in the future,” he says.

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections