Health Check: Blood pressure implant - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Health Check: Blood pressure implant

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Two years ago, Tim Shockley's blood pressure suddenly shot through the roof.

"No cause, no difference, no nothing. And all of a sudden at this particular doctor's appointment the blood pressure was crazy high," Shockley said.

Shockley took four drugs at maximum dosage, but his blood pressure remained high. The elevated blood pressure affected his eye.

"Now, I've got an 18-month-old grandson. The thought of not being able to watch him grow up, it's terrifying," Shockley said.

Desperate for a solution, he volunteered to be the first patient in the United States to try out a new device being tested that may help control his blood pressure without drugs.

Barostim neo is a pacemaker-like device implanted under the collarbone that sends electrical signals through a wire that is connected to the carotid artery in the neck.

"We've known for a time that this area of the artery controls blood pressure," said Dr. Karen Woo, a surgeon.

The nerves transmit the signals to the brain, activating one of the body's natural blood pressure control mechanisms.

"When the brain gets this signal, what it does is crank down that fight or flight response, and basically tells your body to relax that will in turn decrease your blood pressure," Woo said.

Shockley got the implant in May. Researchers are turning up the stimulation gradually to ease him in. Already, it is starting to lower his blood pressure.

"I just want it to work. I want the pills gone, and I just want to go about the rest of my life, not thinking about blood pressure," Shockley said.

It's important to get blood pressure checked regularly as you may not notice symptoms until there are serious occurrences such as heart attack or stroke.

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