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Brain implants could decrease blood pressure

Source: BBC News
Electrodes lower blood pressure

Another one for the strange but true file — Researchers in the UK have shown that stimulating parts of the brain with surgically implanted electrodes can control blood pressure. The study, published in Neuroreport has highlighted to researchers the exact location in the brain where blood pressure is controlled. This information may assist with future investigations into the brains connection with hypertension.

Alexander Green from the Department of Neurosurgery at Oxford University discovered the electrodes effects on blood pressure while implanting the devices into patients for pain control and in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Electric currents stimulated part of the midbrain called periaqueductal grey matter (PAG) in order to treat chronic pain in 15 patients. The researchers discovered that the patients who had the electrodes placed near the ventral (front) of the PAG had their blood pressure lowered by an average of 14.2mmHg. Those who had the electrodes placed at the dorsal (back) of the PAG had their blood pressure increased by an average of 16.7mmHg.

It’s considered unlikely that brain electrodes, which require surgery, would be used to treat hypertension, whilst medications are effective. However, the research may help in understanding the brains control over blood pressure.

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