First implantable device to reduce high blood pressure19 May 2014
Life Desk :
Researchers in Germany have developed an implantable device that they claim can reduce blood pressure by sending electrical signals to the brain. The study published in the IOP's Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering reports that the device could offer hope to people worldwide who do not respond to existing medical treatment for high blood pressure.
Symptoms and causes
High blood pressure or hypertension is a silent killer disease because it rarely shows any signs and symptoms. You will be taking a great risk if you wait for the symptoms to alert you to the problem because it may be years before you realize that you have high blood pressure. Meanwhile, the disease silently damages your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other organs.
So, health care providers ask you to check your blood pressure regularly and 'know the numbers'. You can then prevent from developing high blood pressure. You know you have high blood pressure if your systolic pressure (top reading) is 140 or more and your diastolic pressure (the lower number) is 90 or more.
Signs and symptoms
1. You may have headaches if the systolic pressure (upper reading) is more than 180 and your diastolic pressure (lower reading) is 110 or more. Even then scientists believe that those with high blood pressure get fewer headaches as compared with those who don't have the disorder. This is how they explain it - higher the pulse pressure (obtained by subtracting lower reading from the higher reading), stiffer the blood vessels, and consequently, less functional the nerve endings. So, you will feel the pain less.
2. Sometimes you may get nosebleeds but it is not indicative of high blood pressure. Nosebleeds can have other reasons as well such as dry weather, picking the nose, deviated septum, allergies and other conditions.
3. Although dizziness is not the cause of high blood pressure, if it is accompanied by loss of balance and trouble walking, you may be having a stroke. High blood pressure is a great risk factor for stroke. Get medical attention quickly.
4. Red spots in the eyes and facial flushing are sometimes the symptoms of high blood pressure. Then again it is not characteristic of hypertension.
5. Shortness of breath can be caused by many conditions. However, shortness of breath also indicates hypertensive crisis (reading of 180+ / 110+) and is a medical emergency.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
What causes high blood pressure is not known. However, it occurs due to:
Narrowing of arteries by plaques
Greater than normal volume of blood
Faster or more forceful heart beat
Being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, no exercise, smoking, excessive drinking, long term stress, age, family history of high BP, and certain medical conditions can cause high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure cannot be cured. You can prevent it by making lifestyle changes. In addition your doctor may prescribe blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers or other drugs. Do not attempt to treat your high BP yourself. Always consult a doctor.
Sometimes medications don't work for some people. This is when the new implantable device can be a life-saver.
"As the device will require surgery, it is not intended to be the first port of call for treatment and will come into play when patients, for whatever reasons, are resistant to medication. Nevertheless, the long-term goal is to provide 'treatment-on-demand' for the patient, whereby the implantable device uses an intelligent circuit to record the activity of the patient, for instance when they are doing exercise, and adjust the blood pressure accordingly," says Dr. Dennis Plachta, the lead author of the study.
Wait, don't get too excited as yet. The researchers are yet to test it on larger animals. "We will now look to develop the implantable device further and investigate whether it interferes with existing medication, and ultimately test it on larger animals such as pigs and sheep," they said.
Till the device is available for human use, opt for the following lifestyle changes to prevent or reduce your high blood pressure:
1. Lose inches from your tummy and shed excess weight.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Eat healthy.
4. Avoid high sodium foods, viz. processed foods, fast foods, carbonated drinks, etc. Consume less salt.
5. Avoid alcohol binging.
6. Quit smoking and avoid tobacco products.
7. Reduce stress.
8. Cut back on caffeine.
Monitor your blood pressure closely and don't miss your doctor's appointment.