High blood pressure causes 7.5 million deaths worldwide per annum and is difficult to control in patients with type II diabetes. Type II diabetes patients with treatment-resistant hypertension can now be treated simply by applying 20 minutes of ultrasound to their forearm.
212 type II diabetes patients with treatment-resistant hypertension were enrolled in a study conducted by lead researcher Katsunori Nonogaki, of Tohoku University’s Department of Diabetes Technology.
The participants were divided into four groups of which two were used as controls, receiving a placebo procedure. One test group received 500 kHz of low-intensity ultrasound irradiation for 20 minutes while the other received 20 minutes of low frequency (800 kHz), low-intensity irradiation.
Both the 800 kHz and 500 kHz irradiation sessions reduced the patients’ blood pressure and pulse rates significantly when compared to pre-treatment levels. The 500 kHz treatment showed the best results while the placebo groups’ blood pressure and pulse rates did not change significantly. Neither group suffered any adverse effects from the ultrasound treatment.
It is still unclear how blood pressure is improved by ultrasound in these patients. Sympathetic nerve activity, responsible for the flight or fight response, might be suppressed. This suppression may be transmitted by nerve pathways from the forearm to the cardiovascular system.
Nonogaki says that there are no specific treatments for resistant hypertension. Anti-hypertensive agents for patients comes at a high cost, while ultrasound is both non-invasive and cheap.
The study results are published in the International Journal of Cardiology .