Deep brain stimulation for the treatment of resistant hypertension

Erin L O'Callaghan, Fiona D McBryde, Amy E Burchell, Laura E K Ratcliffe, Liviu Nicolae, Ivor Gillbe, Derek Carr, Emma C Hart, Angus K Nightingale, Nikunj K Patel, Julian F R Paton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Hypertension is a leading risk factor for the development of several cardiovascular diseases. As the global prevalence of hypertension increases, so too has the recognition of resistant hypertension. Whilst figures vary, the proportion of hypertensive patients that are resistant to multiple drug therapies have been reported to be as high as 16.4 %. Resistant hypertension is typically associated with elevated sympathetic activity and abnormal homeostatic reflex control and is termed neurogenic hypertension because of its presumed central autonomic nervous system origin. This resistance to conventional pharmacological treatment has stimulated a plethora of medical devices to be investigated for use in hypertension, with varying degrees of success. In this review, we discuss a new therapy for drug-resistant hypertension, deep brain stimulation. The utility of deep brain stimulation in resistant hypertension was first discovered in patients with concurrent neuropathic pain, where it lowered blood pressure and improved baroreflex sensitivity. The most promising central target for stimulation is the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, which has been well characterised in animal studies as a control centre for autonomic outflow. In this review, we will discuss the promise and potential mechanisms of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of severe, resistant hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493
JournalCurrent Hypertension Reports
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Structured keywords

  • CRICBristol


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