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Blood pressure-lowering treatment trialled

17 February 2016

Blood Pressure

Cardiff doctor is the first in Wales to recruit patients to trial a promising non drug related, non-invasive therapy

A potentially life-changing one-hour treatment for people living with high blood pressure is for the first time being trialled in Wales.

Led by a Cardiff researcher, the treatment is being undertaken in the University Hospital Wales and is targeted at Welsh people living with high blood pressure, who have a higher risk of suffering a stroke or severe heart attack because their condition is not being controlled with drug therapy. It is estimated that at least 8-10% of people with high blood pressure have this drug resistant form of the condition.

The treatment, which uses non-invasive ultrasound, is the subject of a randomized clinical trial known as WAVE IV. In previous trials, three quarters of treated patients experienced a meaningful reduction in their blood pressure following the one-time, one-hour therapy.

Patients may be eligible to participate in the WAVE IV Clinical Study if:

  • They are aged between 18 and 90 years of age.
  • Their systolic blood pressure (top number) is consistently greater than 160 mmHg when they see their doctor.
  • They are currently taking three or more prescription medications for high blood pressure.

People in Wales who meet these three criteria may call 029 2071 6944 and should consult their GP for referral to the study. Or, for information regarding the nearest clinical study site, email

Resistant hypertension is a severe type of high blood pressure and is defined by a lack of response to three or more drugs. Patients with resistant hypertension may or may not have symptoms and have a significantly increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease or stroke.

People with hypertension may have overactive renal (kidney) nerves, a condition that raises blood pressure and contributes to heart, kidney and blood vessel damage.

The Surround Sound® Hypertension Therapy System uses non-invasive ultrasound to treat hyperactive renal nerves (a technique called renal denervation [RDN]). This is intended to cause a reduction in the kidney’s production of hormones that raise blood pressure and may also protect the heart, kidneys and blood vessels from further damage.

The WAVE IV clinical trial is evaluating Surround Sound Hypertension Therapy for patients with severe resistant hypertension. Surround Sound is the only non-invasive renal denervation treatment for resistant hypertension of its type: other treatments rely on a catheter inside the body emitting energy to treat the renal nerves, while Surround Sound® delivers ultrasound energy to the nerves from outside the body without any cutting or incisions.

Professor John Cockcroft, Professor of Cardiology at the University’s Wales Heart Research Institute, says: "Approximately 8-10% of people with high blood pressure may be difficult to control despite optimal medication. Previously there was nothing further to offer these patients.

“Now we have entered an era of non-drug device related therapy for these patients which has already shown some promise. However we are constantly striving to improve non-drug related therapy for these patients, which if successful, will undoubtedly prevent strokes and heart attacks which would previously not have been possible."

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