Life-saving treatment for hypertension at Ascension Sacred Heart

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Doctors at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay are offering a new treatment for patients with high blood pressure.

Ascension is the first in the region to offer a minimally invasive procedure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.


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The leading cause of heart disease is hypertension or high blood pressure.

“50% of adults have high blood pressure. 80% of them are not controlled,” Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Samir Patel said.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show someone dies from heart disease every 33 seconds.

Physicians at Ascension Sacred Heart said this new procedure may improve that number.
It’s called renal denervation.

The procedure reduces nerve activity between the heart and kidneys.

Catheters are passed into the kidney arteries on both sides and radio frequency energy is sent out to disrupt nerve signals.

It takes about an hour to complete both kidneys.

“We’re accustomed to this and we’re applying the radio frequency energy within the same artery that we’re used to accessing,” Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Amir Haghihat said.


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It lowers a patient’s blood pressure.

“Every ten-millimeter drop of blood pressure reduces your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or dying by about 20%,” Dr. Patel said.

This procedure is only being offered to patients who fall into a specific category.

“Patients that have what we call resistant hypertension. They’re on three medications at maximal doses that they can tolerate. And the blood pressure still is high above 140 systolic,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Patel said he estimates that 20% of his patients qualify for this procedure.

He and Dr. Haghihat performed the first renal denervation procedure on March 13.

“It’s really leading the way in terms of keeping our population as healthy as possible to prevent future complications and increasing burden in the community and on the health care system,” Ascension Sacred Heart Bay President and CEO Robin Godwin said.

Doctors say it’s a safe procedure with very little side effects.


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“Less than 1% complication rate in over 25,000 patients that have had had it done so far worldwide. So, it’s a relatively safe procedure usually the effect of the procedure won’t occur until about a few weeks after the procedure,” Dr. Patel said.

In Bay County alone, there have been 3,000 E.R. visits and 2,000 hospitalizations for high blood pressure over the last three years.        

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