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UT Health East Texas physicians involved with study to treat high blood pressure

Outpatient procedure aimed at those whose hypertension is resistant to medication


Dr. Frank Navetta

Tyler (Oct. 26, 2023) —  High blood pressure is a problem for a large percentage of East Texans, but that soon may be changing thanks to a study led by two physicians with the UT Health East Texas Heart and Vascular Institute. Dr. Frank Navetta and Dr. Robert Smith are researching a new procedure that may lower blood pressure even if it is resistant to medication. They already have performed this outpatient procedure, the first in East Texas, with positive results that will continue to be monitored.

The procedure, called renal denervation, actually takes place near the kidneys but benefits the heart. The sympathetic nervous system sends signals from the kidneys to the brain and then the heart to pump more blood faster, which results in hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. The renal denervation procedure cauterizes the nerve that sends those signals, which lowers blood pressure, but blood flow and kidney function remain unobstructed. The misfiring nerve is calmed, stopping the messaging to the brain and heart to keep pushing for more blood. Kidney function remains unaffected by the procedure.

Dr. Robert Smith

“East Texas is ‘Ground Zero’ for hypertension and its complications,” Dr. Navetta said. “It is our hope that this minimally invasive procedure will greatly expand our ability to optimally manage hypertension and, therefore, limit long-term complications. The physicians of CVC and the UT Health System are excited to offer this procedure to our patients through an industry-sponsored research protocol.”

Anything that can lessen high blood pressure can have huge implications for life-saving measures to East Texans, Dr. Navetta said.

“Hypertension is one of the most modifiable risk factors in the management of cardiovascular disease including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure and stroke,” he said. “Relatively small declines in blood pressure result in significant decreases in cardiovascular risk.”

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because it usually has no obvious symptoms.  For some people, managing high blood pressure is as simple as taking medication or making lifestyle changes. But for many, high blood pressure can be difficult to control even with medication, and those are the people who are candidates for this study.

If you are suffering from high blood pressure, please see your primary care physician. If you are on medication for high blood pressure and it is still not manageable, and you are interested in seeing if you are a candidate for this study, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Navetta or Dr. Smith by calling 903-595-5514.

About UT Health East Texas

UT Health East Texas provides care to thousands of patients each year through an extensive regional network that includes 10 hospitals, more than 80 clinics, the Olympic Plaza Tower, 13 regional rehabilitation facilities, two freestanding emergency centers, regional home health services covering 41 counties, an EMS fleet of more than 50 ambulances and four helicopters, and a comprehensive seven-trauma center care network, including the region’s only Level 1 trauma facility.

As a partner with The University of Texas System, UT Health East Texas is uniquely positioned to provide patients with access to leading-edge research and clinical therapies while training and educating the next generation of physicians and other health professionals. The nationally recognized UT System also includes The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, as well as three other major university medical centers located throughout the state.

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