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Cutting-Edge Devices Assist Cardio Treatments

Experimental technologies proving their mettle as powerful tools for docs

MONDAY, March 26, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- An implantable device that stimulates the body's own regulatory systems to control high blood pressure is among a number of experimental technologies that show promise in treating different kinds of cardiovascular problems.

Others include a computer that improves the results of angioplasty by automating balloon inflation and an X-ray-visible microcapsule that simplifies the delivery and tracking of stem cells to tissues that need new blood vessels.

Studies on the new technologies were presented Sunday at the American College of Cardiology's Innovation in Intervention: i2 Summit, in New Orleans.

The implantable blood pressure control device -- called the Rheos Baroreflex Hypertension Therapy System -- consists of a pulse generator (about the size of a pacemaker) that's implanted under the skin near the collarbone. Wires carry electrical signals from the pulse generator to the carotid arteries in the neck, where the body's pressure sensors (baroreceptors) are located.

When the electrical signals from the pulse generator reach the baroreceptors, the brain interprets the electrical signals as a rise in blood pressure and activates the body's natural mechanisms for reducing blood pressure.

A study of 21 patients with high blood pressure found that their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading) was reduced by an average of 21 mm/Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 16 mm/Hg after six months of treatment with the Rheos device.

The device could become an important treatment option for hypertension patients who don't respond to conventional therapies, researchers said.

Another experimental technology presented at the meeting is a computer-operated device that gradually inflates a balloon and stent inside a narrowed coronary artery. A study of 300 patients found that the Computerized Automatic Pressure Sensor and Inflator Device (CAPSID) significantly reduced patients' long-term risk of re-narrowing of the coronary arteries and resulting complications, such as heart attack.

Manual angioplasty techniques can injure artery walls. The use of CAPSID may improve outcomes for patients undergoing stenting and cut health care costs by reducing the need for expensive drug-eluting stents and the need for repeat procedures, researchers said.

The third new technology presented at the meeting is a microcapsule that transports stem cells through the body and protects the stem cells from attack by the immune system. The X-ray visible microcapsules -- called XCaps -- can be used to track the delivery, survival and function of stem cells in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart and vascular diseases.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, March 25, 2007
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