Pacemaker for High Blood Pressure
BACKGROUND: One in three American adults has high blood pressure; one third of those with high blood pressure are unaware of it, according to the American Heart Association. There are no known symptoms, and the only way to know your blood pressure is to have it checked. High blood pressure is defined by a pressure 140/90 mm Hg or above and can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.
RISK FACTORS: Although high blood pressure offers no symptoms, there are many risk factors associated with it. Uncontrollable risk factors include race, heredity and age. Blacks develop high blood pressure more than whites, often earlier and with more severity. More than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High Blood pressure may run in the family, so if your parents or close blood relatives have it, you have a higher chance of developing it. People over 35 have the highest chance of development -- men most often between 35 and 55, and women after menopause.
There are many ways you can control your chances of developing high blood pressure. Keep a healthy body mass index. A BMI of 30 or higher identifies obesity and a higher risk for high blood pressure. Eating a diet high in salt or drinking too much alcohol can also increase the risk. Physical activity helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, while mental stress often raises blood pressure.
TREATMENT: The first step to lower blood pressure should always be a healthy lifestyle. Common drugs to lower blood pressure are diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin antagonists, calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers, nervous system blockers and vasodilators. Each has a unique function, and multiple medications are commonly taken daily.
RHEOS: A new drug-free treatment for hypertension is the Rheos system. The device jump starts the body's natural regulation system to reduce high blood pressure. Electrical pulses are sent to baroreceptors (nerves inside the carotid arteries of the neck) which send a signal to the brain, which is interpreted as a rise in blood pressure. After the brain is alerted, it sends instructions to other parts of the body, such as the vessels, heart or kidneys, to do whatever is needed to reduce the blood pressure level. The device is about the size of an iPod and is implanted below the collar bone along with two thin electrode wires. In addition, physicians keep an external device that they use to regulate electrical energy from the pulse generator to the wires. A clinical trial evaluating the device is currently enrolling patients.
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