, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 39-46

Renal Sympathetic Nerve Ablation: The New Frontier in the Treatment of Hypertension

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Abstract

The sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in circulatory and metabolic control and has clearly been established as a major contributor to the development of hypertension, as elevated sympathetic nerve activity initiates and sustains the elevation of blood pressure. Increased sympathetic outflow to the heart, resulting in increased cardiac output and neurally mediated vasoconstriction of peripheral blood vessels, is an obvious example of a neural pathophysiologic pathway leading to elevated blood pressure. The consequences of increased sympathetic outflow to the kidneys, perhaps most important in this context, are sodium and water retention, increased renin release, and alterations of renal blood flow—effects that contribute substantially to both acute and long-term blood pressure elevations. Accordingly, renal sympathetic nerve ablation appears to be a logical therapeutic approach for the treatment of hypertension. Recent reports on a novel catheter-based renal nerve ablation procedure reviewed in this article are promising.