Landmark surgery at the University of Rochester could be the start of a whole new line of thinking in treating high blood pressure.
Doctors there implanted an experimental pacemaker-like device this week that lowers blood pressure using small electrical pulses. 36-year-old Annette Lawrence of Rochester helped make medical history by volunteering as the first in the U.S. to receive this device implanted in a two hour procedure.
"We expose both arteries on either side of the neck. We put electrodes on that part then we hook it up to a generator and tested it. We turned up the power and the ladies blood pressure just went down. Our eyes opened wide and we said this is exciting," says Dr. Karl Illig, the Chief Vascular Surgeon at URMC.
Dr. Illig says Annette will probably have to take just one medication for her blood pressure now. Before the implant, she was on seven.
The University of Rochester Medical Center is one of just a few sites in the country testing this implant to control high blood pressure. But if this small study is successful, there will be a larger national study that could ultimately lead to FDA approval. The device was first introduced in Europe where it has been successful.