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Interesting article

Guest elyag

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The possibility of a patient lowering their blood pressure at the flick of a switch has been raised by research led by Oxford University, which shows that stimulating parts of the brain with electrodes can change a patient?s blood pressure.

In a paper published today by Neuroreport,[www.neuroreport.com] researchers at Oxford University and Imperial College London report that they have found the exact area of the brain that controls blood pressure and how to make use of it.

A team of neurosurgeons and physiologists have found that they can make patients? blood pressure increase or decrease by stimulating with electrodes very specific regions of the brain.

Deep brain stimulation ? placing very thin electrodes onto exact locations in the brain ? is already used to relieve pain or to help Parkinsons? sufferers to move better. Fifteen patients having the operation to implant electrodes for pain control agreed to take part in a study to see whether stimulating another location in the brain could alter blood pressure.

It was found that blood pressure could indeed be changed, and that it could be raised or lowered very precisely by stimulating different, very specific parts of the brain. This potentially offers a cure to sufferers of high blood pressure that does not depend on taking drugs long-term.

As the electrodes can be switched on and off, another condition that could potentially be treated using this method is ?postural hypotension?, a condition where a patient?s blood pressure falls uncontrollably upon standing up.

Mr Alexander Green from Oxford's Department of Neurosurgery, lead author of the paper, said: ?Obviously, as this is brain surgery, we have to proceed with great caution: it would initially only be warranted in those patients for whom drug treatments just aren?t working. However, other research groups are working on less invasive methods of stimulating exact locations in the brain, for example using nanotechnology, and if this becomes available then the treatment would be attractive to a much larger number of people.?

Picture: a patient having surgery to implant electrodes. After surgery the electrodes can be switched on and off by the patient using a handheld box.

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Pretty cool! I was just watching the show "Medical Incredible" tonight where they implanted a deep brain stimulator in a man with parkinson disease and it stopped his tremoring almost immediately.

It'll be interesting to see where the autonomic doc go with this info. Nina

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Thanks for posting the article. My good friend's mom had the surgery for Parkinson's. She had great initial results, but now her tremors have come back. I am so glad they are investigating non-surgical ways of brain stimulation too. I am always happy to hear about another possible treatment for POTS. I am hopeful that they will develop many more options for us over the years.

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Wow, great article Gayle! Thanks for posting.

I remember years ago seeing a man get some brain surgery WHILE AWAKE to help his parkinson's!! I can't imagine being awake while they drill holes thru the skull!!! But it helped him so much.

I sent you an email and I hope you get it. I am back home at my own computer. Yay.

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I thought this article was really interesting. One of the most encouraging things I've read in a while. As awful as it was to go through brain surgery I'd do it again for something like this if they find it really works. Although ironically it was most likely the brain surgery that got me into this mess in the first place.

Sophia, thanks I did get your e mail.

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