A NEW procedure which could revoluntionise treatment for patients with high blood pressure has been carried out for the first time in Essex.

Specialists at Basildon Hospital performed renal denervation on two patients with high blood pressure that would not respond to medication.

The procedure involves inserting of a very thin wire from the groin into the arteries connected to the kidneys.

Radiofrequency energy is then delivered to the wall of the kidney artery to inhibit surrounding nerves, which contribute to high blood pressure when they are overactive.

It is a low-risk procedure, carried out under local anaesthetic.

The procedure has only been carried out at a few specialist centres in Britain.

Research has shown the procedure is highly effective in 85 per cent of cases.

Derek Ringe, 62, was one of the first patients to undergo the procedure, performed by consultant cardiologists, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Sayer, at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre at Basildon Hospital.

Mr Ringe, a self-employed heating and plumbing engineer from Colchester, has had high blood pressure for 20 years.

He was prescribed a wide range of medication, some of which caused unpleasant side-effects, but his condition had not improved. He said: “The care at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre has been first class – with very good nursing and nice food.

“In the theatre there were so many people, but they all came and introduced themselves and explained what they were doing.

“It will take a bit of time to know whether the procedure has worked, but I had nothing to lose and I am hopeful that in time I will be able to get back to normal.”

Dr Robinson, who is leading the renal denervation programme at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, said: “We are very excited at the prospect of being able to offer this revolutionary treatment to patients.

“It is currently not commissioned by the NHS, but we have so far used dedicated funds for research and development in order to help develop this important new service.”