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Talk: New treatments for high blood pressure

Our studioguest is Prof. Philipp Stawowy, a cardiologist at the German Heart Institute in Berlin.

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DW: A pacemaker that lowers blood pressure. Can you tell us the difference between that and a regular cardiac pacemaker.

Philipp Stawowy: Both pacemakers function with electrical energy, but one goes to the receptor, and the other one, the heart pacemaker, goes to your heart. And it normalizes your heartbeat.

So one works on the receptors to lower a reaction, or your blood pressure.And the other one works to help your heart function better. Now you yourself have a different approach to the same problem, blood pressure. Can you tell us how yours differs from the one in the report.

The method we use is called renal denervation. There are nerves around the renal artery and we kill these nerves and thereby lower the blood pressure. With the pacemaker you increase the firing, a signal to the brain, which tells the brain that the blood pressure is high. And then the blood pressure gets lower.

Deadening the nerves sounds a bit drastic. Is it drastic?

No, it is not drastic at all. The artery [denervation] method is a very simple and easy to perform method.

So it is perhaps a simpler method than the one we saw in the report.

Yes. The one you saw in the report requires a large operation.

So would you consider the one we saw in the report a promising therapy?

It is promising, but it is promising only for patients who cannot be treated by other means.

So this is essentially for people that medication does not work on, and then this is the last resort.


You yourself, you have been working in this business for a long time. Now, you have come across this vaccine that came up a couple of years ago. What ever became of that?

It didn't work. In the studies it was interesting, it was a fascinating idea, but it did not work out.

So that did not work out. Did they ever come across with any other medications that might help with hypertension?

We have a large portfolio of medications. And when you combine these medications in the right way, in the right dosage, you can lower blood pressure very effectively in many many many patients.

So there are medications, and there are other methods if the medications do not work. But what can I do, what can people at home do, to keep high blood pressure at bay?

This is what we call the healthy lifestyle. So eat less salt, Mediterranean diet, exercise, no smoking, less alcohol; and lose weight.

Does that apply to everyone right across the board, even someone my age?

At your age, you do not have hypertension that much.

(Interview: Anne O'Donnell)