Tackling high blood pressure once and for all
For years Ulf was taking pills that didn’t seem to have any effect on his condition, which he believes deteriorated because he worked too much and didn’t know how to relax. “Along with hypertension, I also had diabetes for 25 years, and the long-time illness had left me really demoralised,” he says. “I’d become indifferent to the things I used to enjoy, like listening to music, going to films and spending time with my wife,” adds the home decorator from Germany.
His doctor didn’t know what to do, but then the opportunity arose for Ulf to try a new therapy that had already been gaining interest among cardiologists in the US. The treatment was designed especially for people suffering from drug-resistant hypertension, in other words patients like Ulf who cannot control their high blood pressure with three or more blood pressure medications.
How it works
Similar to a pacemaker, the small device is implanted inside the patient’s body beneath the collar bone. An electrical impulse works with the body’s own natural blood pressure regulation system to relax the person’s blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow to the body. It also slows the heart down so that it can work more efficiently and reduces fluid in the body, meaning the heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
“I was open to new ideas and this sounded like it could be the solution,” says Ulf. In November 2015 he had the minor operation to implant the device at the university hospital in Tübingen, and although he felt tired when the device was first switched on, the hypertension finally improved.
Getting on with life
“After the operation, I went back to my old self: self-confident, interested in learning about new things, polite, caring and enjoying my work. Many people noticed the change,” he comments. “I’ve always appreciated classical music and I’ve started going to concerts again.”
Doctors are able to personalise Ulf’s therapy settings via wireless communication. “Blood pressure changes all the time and in the night it goes down ‒ although not quite as low as in my youth,” he jokes. He has to drive to Tübingen twice a year for an assessment, but besides that, Ulf is just getting on with his life.