The Anderson Siblings: Hypertension

Candi, Wendy and Marshall Anderson: Hypertension

For many people, vacations are a time to relax, reflect and often, try new experiences. For sisters Wendy and Candyce (Candi) Anderson, a vacation together in early 2017 inspired them to try something new to manage their high blood pressure — participating in a research study through the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF).

After spotting a Facebook ad while on vacation about the new hypertension study that peaked her interest, Wendy suggested Candi join her, who quickly agreed. Soon after, younger brother Marshall joked that his sisters “roped” him into participating as well, but more seriously said, “It sounded like a good idea for us and our health. We could also move science forward through research, which is always a good thing.”

All three siblings applied and met the criteria to participate in MHIF’s RADIANCE-HTN Clinical Study, which is evaluating a minimally-invasive, catheter-based procedure (the Paradise® Renal Denervation System) that may lower blood pressure and reduce a person’s need for blood pressure medications. High blood pressure affects more than one billion people worldwide, yet nearly one in three individuals struggle to control their blood pressure despite being on medication.

Candi, 67, and Wendy, 65, have each been on one or two blood pressure medications for about 14-15 years, while Marshall, 57, has been on a single medication since 2013. As it often does, high blood pressure runs in their family; both of their parents had high blood pressure. All were eager to see if they could reduce the number of blood pressure medications they were taking — or even eliminate the need for medication entirely.

The renal denervation system being evaluated in the study is designed to lower blood pressure by using ultrasound energy that generates heat to calm overactive kidney nerves, which are common in high blood pressure. The siblings said that prior to the study, none of them “had any idea” about the role that overactive kidney nerves might play, and they appreciated the opportunity to learn more. “Wendy and I went to most of our appointments together and so that gave us an opportunity to talk and gain a better understanding of the study and what the possibilities were,” said Candi. 

Although the siblings didn’t know what the potential improvement in their blood pressure could be as a result of the procedure, Wendy said, “Even if it would be improving a small amount, I knew it would be beneficial.” As a pharmacist, avid runner and healthy eater, she said she understands that “anything you can do to improve your blood pressure is a good thing.”

As a three-year randomized controlled study, some patients receive the ultrasound treatment during the catheter-based procedure, while others do not. When all three siblings were “unblinded” after six months and informed whether they received the treatment or were assigned to the control group, they learned that two had received the treatment, while one had not. (Research protocol dictates that they not divulge their individual participation status at this time.) MHIF is the world leader for randomizations for the RADIANCE-HTN research study.

Regardless of whether or not they received the procedure, all three Anderson siblings said they really enjoyed the opportunity to part of the entire research experience. “I thought they ran the study very well and made sure everything was just as it should be,” said Marshall. “If we experienced any problems at all, we could always call in.” All three commented that Rose and Carmen (the study’s two research coordinators) along with MHIF research physician Dr. Yale Wang, did an “awesome job” and “took great care of them” throughout the process.

“It will be really interesting to find out the final outcome of the study and what the researchers learn,” said Candi. Wendy concurred, “Learning more about potential new treatments is so important; I would totally do it again.”

Watch a segment of the Anderson siblings being featured on KSTP regarding their experience with familial hypertension and participating in clinical research!