How Not To Help Your Hypertension. Just Kill The Nerves!

English: indirect blood pressure measurement i...

English: indirect blood pressure measurement in a cat, oscillometric. Deutsch: indirekte Blutdruckmessung bei einer Katze, oszillometrisches Messverfahren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a very disturbing article, frustrated doctors are now recommending destroying the nerves of people unresponsive to blood pressure medication.

How does it work?

Let’s let them explain the procedure first.  (From Huffington Post)

“If there was a snake in the room, all of our blood pressures would go up, appropriately so,” explained interventional cardiologist Dr. Manesh Patel of Duke University.  But sometimes those nerves stay switched on when they shouldn’t be. The hope is that destroying a small number of the nerves could calm an overactive system, relaxing arteries and lowering blood pressure.”

Ok, let me recap.  Stress causes our blood pressures to rise.  It is a necessary part of staying alive.  But in some people, this stress continues to be a problem.  Make that all people, but some of us have more resilient arteries.  So the “new” solution is to cut off the nerve response so your body cannot respond to stress by producing nasty blood pressure raising adrenaline.  Why not just severe the spinal cord and be done with it?  Probably on next year’s list of options:  “you’ll need help to breath, but boy, that blood pressure sure dropped.”

How well does this severing of the nerves work?  In small studies, it takes about 33 points off the upper range, as long as you stay on all your other medications.  And does it work long term?  We don’t know, because we’re just starting larger trials.  And we have no long term results.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, yeah, cutting your nerves will work short term in some people.  But long term you keep up that stress, and you’re going to see that blood pressure rise back up.

Heck, you know what really drops blood pressure?  A newsectomy.  Let’s do a side-by-side trial of the people who get this lovely procedure with people who cannot look at the news for thirty days.  I bet you that the newsectomy is twice as effective.

What gets me about blood pressure is that we haven’t shown that lowering blood pressure prolongs people’s lives overall.  A slight decrease in stroke risk, and yes if you’ve had a heart attack.  But take your healthy eighty-year-old with slight hypertension, and you’re not going to see any more life if you control it with six meds.

But that doesn’t matter.  For this procedure, they’re getting fourteen thousand dollars in Europe.  That means about thirty thousand here in the U.S.  So it’s going to be rolled out.

Here’s a truly radical idea.  Let’s give the patients the thirty thousand dollars.  I’m betting that would bring down their blood pressures.  It might even lead them to take a holiday or get out of the situation that is causing the blood pressure elevation.  Let’s do a study testing the procedure versus giving the patients the cash.  I volunteer for the control group!

 

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