Harvard Heart Letter

On the horizon: A pacemaker to lower blood pressure

For some people with hypertension, exercise, diet, and three or four pills aren't enough to bring blood pressure under control. A pacemaker-like device called the Rheos system, made by Minneapolis-based CVRx, could someday offer extra help for fighting resistant hypertension.

The device works with the body's baroreceptors. These are sensors that continually monitor blood pressure from their posts on each carotid artery in the neck. When blood pressure rises, the baroreceptors send messages to the brain. It responds by sending signals that lower blood pressure. The opposite happens when the baroreceptors and brain detect low blood pressure.

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