Jack Henrich: Intrigued by the possibility of controlling blood pressure without medication
As president of Bergerson Caswell for 30 years, which is a contractor for water wells and water treatment along with geothermal and environmental services, John “Jack” Henrich is an expert when it comes to water wells and pumping systems. Thanks to his participation in a three-year hypertension study being conducted by researchers at The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF), Jack is also now a lot more knowledgeable about his blood pressure and the highly innovative approaches that researchers are investigating to better manage it.
“Even in the first month of participating in the study, I learned how different cardiologists view high blood pressure and its causes and effects. I learned a lot about the inner workings of the human body,” said Jack.
During a routine insurance physical in the fall of 2016, Jack discovered that his blood pressure had gradually increased as he’d gotten older. Then 64, Jack said he had always been in extremely good health, felt like he had good genes, and was someone who was naturally trim. Although he’d initially been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) about 15 years ago, he had been successful up until now in controlling it with proper diet and physical activity.
He had experienced some undesirable side effects from a blood pressure medication in the past and preferred to avoid taking any sort of medication, even over-the-counter pain relievers. “I want to be able to feel what my body is trying to tell me and how it feels,” said Jack.
As luck would have it, Jack saw an Internet ad about the hypertension study being led by MHIF research physician Yale Wang, M.D., to explore an alternative to daily medications. After completing the online questionnaire and the study’s intake protocol in October 2016, he was excited to learn that he qualified. “I thought, ‘This is really neat.’ If this new treatment works, it will be good for mankind, and I would like to be a part of it.”
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is an important area for researchers as the condition affects more than 1 billion people. Left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk for serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Yet nearly one in three individuals with hypertension struggle to control their blood pressure despite being on medication.
The 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. MHIF is one of only a few select centers in the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, France and Germany that was chosen to conduct the study.
As a randomized controlled study, some patients receive the ultrasound treatment during the catheter-based procedure, while others do not. Regardless of whether he would ultimately receive the treatment or be assigned to the “control group” (he can’t divulge his participation status due to the study’s design), Jack said he was excited to participate.
“I would recommend to anyone who has health issues that if MHIF is doing a study, they should consider becoming involved because of how enjoyable it was. Everyone I have dealt with at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation has been wonderful to work with. They like what they are doing … they’re good at it …and people have gone out of their way to help me.”
As he continues to work on managing his blood pressure, Jack is continuing with his low-sodium diet, and as an avid hunter and fisherman, he and his wife enjoy a lot of deer, pheasant and fish. While he’s physically active with yardwork and other household chores, he’s working to incorporate more vigorous exercise into his routine to improve his heart health and muscle tone.
“I continue to make New Year’s resolutions to improve my lifestyle,” said Jack. “I know I’m getting to the age where I need to take as good as care of myself as I did when I was in college.”