Medications don't work for 12 million people with hypertension. A new option comes in the form of a "pacemaker" that puts blood pressure back on track.
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Melissa Medley: Hazelene Jackson loves to make up her family's favorite meals. Standing over a hot stove or grill became more than her body could take. Hazelene has battled hypertension since she was 12 years old. Hazelene Jackson: My blood pressure will run at 230 over 120 and sometime even higher. Melissa Medley: Dangerously above the normal adult pressure of 120 over 80. Over time, hypertension left Hazelene exhausted, unable to work, or care for her family. Hazelene Jackson: I felt like a wet piece of bread and what can you do with a wet piece of bread, nothing. Melissa Medley: Doctors implanted a device in Hazelene's chest to lower her blood pressure. Dr. John Blebea: Similar to a pacemaker for the heart there's a small battery and controller component that goes underneath the skin and wires leading from it. Melissa Medley: Instead of wires going down to the heart, the wires lead up to the carotid arteries in the neck. When a patient's blood pressure is too high, they stimulate a nerve in the neck. John Blebea: That causes the brain to send out multiple signals to try to bring down the blood pressure. Melissa Medley: The brain sends those signals to lower a patient's heart rate by 10 beats per minute and relaxes the arteries with the device in place Hazelene's blood pressure is near normal. Hazelene Jackson: I have energy, I feel alive again. I can do the things that I need to do. Melissa Medley: I'm Melissa Medley reporting.