Many people in the developed world suffer from hypertension - also known as high blood pressure. To put a number on it, it would be around one in three adults.
Hypertension is diagnosed when a patient's blood pressure hovers above 140/90 mmHg - systolic/diastolic - over an extended period.
While the use of medication has enabled breakthroughs in controlling this condition, there are still those who seem "resistant" to this conventional treatment approach. And when we say "resistant", we mean those who have been on multiple pills but are without any signs of improvement.
Yes, it is worrying when hypertension cannot be controlled. This is because for every 20mmHg increase in systolic (heart contraction) and 10 mmHg increase in diastolic (heart relaxation) blood pressure, there is a doubling of deaths resulting from coronary artery disease and stroke.
Introducing Renal Denervation
So what should you do if your blood pressure is stubbornly above the diagnostic range of hypertension? And on top of that, your body seems unresponsive to medication?
The answer can be found in Renal Denervation, termed also as RDN or Ardian. Think of it as a catheter-based procedure; something akin to a "tube" that's inserted via an entry point in your hip area and directed into the kidney arteries.
We are sure you are wondering: Why that part of your body? You see, one of the key causes of elevated blood pressure has to do with the hyperactive nerves attached to the renal arteries which are located around the kidney. Now, these nerves are interlinked with your brain, heart, kidney and other blood vessels; all are part of our body's sympathetic nervous system that regulates blood pressure.
What RDN does is it "deactivates" the source direct - hyperactive nerves - using radiofrequency waves which in turn bring down the body's overall blood pressure. It's a relatively fast procedure that can be completed in two hours or so; done under moderate sedation.
RDN is minimally invasive without the long recovery periods normally associated with major surgery.
From the time the treatment is administered, patients can leave the hospital within one to three days.
Recipients of RDN can expect to have their blood pressure reduced by around 32/12mmHg within a six-month period. Another boon is the fact that RDN is a long term solution, with lasting effects.
That means life can go on as normal after the procedure - taking into account the adjustment of proper lifestyle habits, of course.
This article was contributed by Dr Dinesh Nair, Senior Consultant of Cardiology at the Parkway Heart and Vascular Centre.