Renal denervation for resistant hypertension

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Background: Resistant hypertension is highly prevalent among the general hypertensive population and the clinical management of this condition remains problematic. Different approaches, including a more intensified antihypertensive therapy, lifestyle modifications or both, have largely failed to improve patients' outcomes and to reduce cardiovascular and renal risk. As renal sympathetic hyperactivity is a major driver of resistant hypertension, in the last decade renal sympathetic ablation (renal denervation) has been proposed as a possible therapeutic alternative to treat this condition. Objectives: We sought to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of renal denervation in individuals with resistant hypertension on clinical end points, including fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events, all-cause mortality, hospital admissions, quality of life, blood pressure control, left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiovascular and metabolic profile and kidney function, as well as the potential adverse events related to the procedure. Search methods: For this updated review, the Cochrane Hypertension Information Specialist searched the following databases for randomised controlled trials up to 3 November 2020: Cochrane Hypertension’s Specialised Register, CENTRAL (2020, Issue 11), Ovid MEDLINE, and Ovid Embase. The World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (via CENTRAL) and the US National Institutes of Health Ongoing Trials Register were searched for ongoing trials. We also contacted authors of relevant papers regarding further published and unpublished work. The searches had no language restrictions. Selection criteria: We considered randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared renal denervation to standard therapy or sham procedure to treat resistant hypertension, without language restriction. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently extracted data and assessed study risk of bias. We summarised treatment effects on available clinical outcomes and adverse events using random-effects meta-analyses. We assessed heterogeneity in estimated treatment effects using Chi² and I² statistics. We calculated summary treatment estimates as a mean difference (MD) or standardised mean difference (SMD) for continuous outcomes, and a risk ratio (RR) for dichotomous outcomes, together with their 95% confidence intervals (CI). Certainty of evidence has been assessed using the GRADE approach. Main results: We found 15 eligible studies (1416 participants). In four studies, renal denervation was compared to sham procedure; in the remaining studies, renal denervation was tested against standard or intensified antihypertensive therapy. Most studies had unclear or high risk of bias for allocation concealment and blinding. When compared to control, there was low-certainty evidence that renal denervation had little or no effect on the risk of myocardial infarction (4 studies, 742 participants; RR 1.31, 95% CI 0.45 to 3.84), ischaemic stroke (5 studies, 892 participants; RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.33 to 2.95), unstable angina (3 studies, 270 participants; RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.09 to 2.89) or hospitalisation (3 studies, 743 participants; RR 1.24, 95% CI 0.50 to 3.11). Based on moderate-certainty evidence, renal denervation may reduce 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) systolic BP (9 studies, 1045 participants; MD -5.29 mmHg, 95% CI -10.46 to -0.13), ABPM diastolic BP (8 studies, 1004 participants; MD -3.75 mmHg, 95% CI -7.10 to -0.39) and office diastolic BP (8 studies, 1049 participants; MD -4.61 mmHg, 95% CI -8.23 to -0.99). Conversely, this procedure had little or no effect on office systolic BP (10 studies, 1090 participants; MD -5.92 mmHg, 95% CI -12.94 to 1.10). Moderate-certainty evidence suggested that renal denervation may not reduce serum creatinine (5 studies, 721 participants, MD 0.03 mg/dL, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.13) and may not increase the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) or creatinine clearance (6 studies, 822 participants; MD -2.56 mL/min, 95% CI -7.53 to 2.42). Authors' conclusions: In patients with resistant hypertension, there is low-certainty evidence that renal denervation does not improve major cardiovascular outomes and renal function. Conversely, moderate-certainty evidence exists that it may improve 24h ABPM and diastolic office-measured BP. Future trials measuring patient-centred instead of surrogate outcomes, with longer follow-up periods, larger sample size and more standardised procedural methods are necessary to clarify the utility of this procedure in this population.




Pisano, A., Iannone, L. F., Leo, A., Russo, E., Coppolino, G., & Bolignano, D. (2021, November 22). Renal denervation for resistant hypertension. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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