Research

Deep Brain Stimulation Helpful in Hard-to-Control High Blood Pressure

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Researchers were surprised to discover what may be a potential new treatment for difficult-to-control high blood pressure. The report is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The report involved one man who received a deep brain stimulator to treat his pain from central pain syndrome that developed after a stroke. Deep brain stimulation uses a surgical implant similar to a cardiac pacemaker to send electrical pulses to the brain. The 55-year-old man was diagnosed with high blood pressure at the time of the stroke, and his blood pressure remained high even though he was taking four drugs to control it. While the electrical stimulation did not permanently alleviate his pain, researchers were surprised to see that stimulation decreased his blood pressure enough that he could stop taking all of the blood pressure drugs. The decrease in blood pressure was a response to the deep brain stimulation, and not a result of changes to his other conditions. The man’s blood pressure gradually decreased after the deep brain stimulator was implanted in the periaqueductal-periventricular grey region of the brain, which is involved in regulating pain. His blood pressure was controlled for the nearly three years of follow-up; at one point he went back on an anti-hypertension drug for a slight increase in blood pressure, but that drug was withdrawn when the blood pressure went down again. At one point researchers tested turning off the stimulator. This led to an increase of an average of 18/5 mmHg in blood pressure. When the stimulator was turned back on, blood pressure dropped by an average of 32/12 mmHg. Repeating the tests produced the same results.

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