Medical Innovation Summit: Kidney-Shaped Cardiac Breakthrough

A new kidney treatment that lowers blood pressure

heart vascular health line art

Kidneys rarely make news in the heart world. But this week, the kidney was elevated to the status of cardiac icon. It happened at the annual Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit, October 10-12. On the last day of the Summit, the organizers released their much-anticipated ranking of the “Top Ten Medical Innovations of 2011“. Number one was a new kidney treatment that successfully lowers blood pressure without medication. Since high blood pressure is a major risk factor for all forms of cardiovascular disease, this treatment could have huge impact on heart care.

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“Unless we’re missing something, this is a technology that’s transformative,” said Steven Nissen, MD, chair of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, in making the announcement. “It’s a really big deal.”

The innovation is a technique that threads an electrode-tipped catheter up inside the kidney. There, the electrode delivers low-power electric pulses to disable targeted nerve structures. These nerves are implicated in causing high blood pressure. The technique puts these nerves out of commission permanently, causing a dramatic drop in blood pressure and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease across the board.

The treatment is available in Europe and Australia, but patients are still being enrolled in a trail meant to earn it approval in the United States. The manufacturers of the device that performs the treatment hope to have it on the market here by 2014.

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