The Mater Private Network in Dublin is participating in a global clinical trial to evaluate a new, investigational treatment for patients with high blood pressure.

The first two patients in Ireland underwent the investigational procedure at Mater Private in recent weeks, and the Mater Private Network is seeking more patients to participate in the trial (see below). Prof Robert Byrne, Director of Cardiology at the Mater Private, is the principal investigator leading the study. He said: “This new investigational technique for treating high blood pressure is a minimally-invasive procedure and is carried out under mild sedation.

We use a special catheter (the Peregrine System Kit), which is inserted through a small incision in the groin and guided to the renal arteries using angiography. The catheter then delivers a small dose of medical-grade alcohol to the area just outside the renal artery, where the nerves that contribute to the increase in blood pressure are located.

The alcohol has the effect of deactivating the over-signalling of the nerves and this in turn reduces the blood pressure. “High blood pressure is a major health concern in Ireland. International comparisons suggest that Ireland compares poorly to other European countries in terms of detection and treatment of high blood pressure. If left undertreated, it can lead to stroke, heart failure and kidney disease, among many other complications.

The standard treatment includes diet, exercise and prescription medication, which can be very effective. However, there are some patients who are still unable to manage their blood pressure within recommended limits with these interventions alone and this clinical trial is an important step towards delivering an alternative treatment. “Other methods to deactivate the nerves in the renal artery using energy sources such as radiofrequency and ultrasound have been widely investigated in clinical trial settings,” continued Prof Byrne.

“This new technique using precise, targeted chemical ablation was developed by Ablative Solutions Inc and we are one of only two hospitals in Ireland involved in the Target BP I clinical trial for this new technique.” The clinical trial for this new treatment for high blood pressure is underway in hospitals in Europe and the United States. Patients who are interested in taking part in the clinical trial may contact the research team at the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) by calling 087 958 8534 or emailing cvri@materprivate.ie to see if they qualify.