Modulating the Autonomic Nervous System to Treat Hypertension and Heart Failure
Mayo Clinic physicians have demonstrated that modulation of the autonomic nervous system can reduce blood pressure and improve symptoms in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. Afferent nerves originating from skeletal muscle or from the kidneys are blocked to achieve the reduction in blood pressure and the improvement in CHF symptoms. Long-term therapy would be achieved by placing electrodes at defined anatomical locations and blocking afferent nerve traffic.
Application Treatment of hypertension and/or congestive heart failure using a device approach that does not alter anatomy (e.g., does not ablate nerve tissue) and is reversible.
Stage of Development Proof of concept has been demonstrated in human studies using spinal narcotic injections. In these studies stable heart failure patients received spinal injections of fentanyl and were assessed for hemodynamic and respiratory function. Patients receiving injections demonstrated improvement in ventilatory function, exercise tolerance, and a reduction in blood pressure. A follow-on clinical study using spinal cord stimulators to achieve afferent nerve block is under way.