Deb Jellinger: Hypertension

As a cardiac nurse for the last eight years at Minneapolis Heart Institute® (MHI) clinics in the Brainerd, Minn., area, Deb Jellinger regularly counsels patients about steps they can take to better control their blood pressure, including the importance of taking their medications as prescribed. With a strong family history of high blood pressure (hypertension), Deb, 57, has had to work diligently to manage her own high blood pressure since she 20 years old. She goes to yoga classes twice a week and walks three times a week, manages her weight, doesn’t smoke and eats a healthy low-sodium diet, yet she has still needed to take blood pressure medications for most of her adult life.

People whose parents or other close blood relatives have high blood pressure have an increased chance of getting the condition, too. While Deb’s three siblings don’t have the condition, her mother has had high blood pressure since she was in her 20s, and two of Deb’s three sons, also in their 20s, are on blood pressure medications.

When Deb learned at work about a new blood pressure treatment study that MHI cardiologist Dr. Yale Wang was conducting through MHI’s research partner, the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF), she was eager to see if she could benefit. MHIF’s RADIANCE-HTN Clinical Study is evaluating an investigative, minimally-invasive, catheter-based procedure (the Paradise® Renal Denervation System), which may lower blood pressure and reduce a person’s need for blood pressure medications. The system is designed to lower blood pressure by using ultrasound energy that generates heat to calm overactive kidney nerves, which are common in people with high blood pressure.

“I can’t fight my genes, so I was really interested in doing something — anything – that might allow me to at least take a little less medication,” Deb said.

As a three-year randomized controlled study, some patients receive the ultrasound treatment during the catheter-based procedure, while others do not. While Deb herself was “unblinded” after six months and told whether she received the treatment or was assigned to the control group, the research protocol dictates that she not divulge her participation status at this time.

Whether it’s the new renal denervation system being studied or some other type of treatment, Deb would be very happy to see new options become available to more people, including her family members and everyone else who has high blood pressure. About 75 million American adults — one in three — have high blood pressure. And nearly one in three people with high blood pressure struggle to control it despite being on medication.

“I understand that studies are about creating hope for the future, and my hope is that the research such as what MHIF is doing will help create more options for people with high blood pressure and their families,” said Deb.