HonorHealth Research Institute study uses new programing for pacemakers to control high blood pressure without additional drugs

Dr. Rahul Doshi leads ‘BACKBEAT’ clinical trial to prevent strokes and heart attacks by precisely timing heartbeats

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — June 19, 2024 — A programming algorithm being tested by HonorHealth Research Institute for those patients with new or recently installed pacemakers is designed so the device not only provides a steady heartbeat but also controls high blood pressure.

A recently opened clinical trial called BACKBEAT (BradycArdia paCemaKer for Blood prEssure treAtmenT) aims to use Medtronic’s Astra and Azure model pacemakers to not only treat slow heart rates but also delivers electrical pulses stimulating the heart in a way that reduces the patient’s blood pressure.

The clinical trial is for patients who require a pacemaker, but who no longer respond well to their current high blood pressure medication.

“It’s a huge, huge health problem,” said Rahul Doshi, M.D., an electrophysiologist in the Research Institute’s Cardiovascular Research Division. “Many patients who require a pacemaker have uncontrolled high blood pressure”.

The electrical system of the heart works by coordinating the function of the upper chambers (the atria) and the lower chambers (the ventricles) in order to function as a pump delivering blood to the whole body.

By varying the timing of heart beats for the upper and lower chambers, the new algorithm can lower blood pressure by several mechanisms and have a lasting benefit. Reducing high blood pressure lowers the risk of life-threatening strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.

Method provides lasting benefit

“This therapy works automatically without the patient or the doctor having to do anything. You just turn it on, and it works,” Dr. Doshi said. “It’s very promising. It’s been demonstrated in all of our preliminary data that, not only does this work, but it also has a lasting benefit if you continue the therapy.”

Previous attempts to cultivate a non-drug method of controlling high blood pressure did not provide a lasting effect, Dr. Doshi said.

For more information about HonorHealth Research Institute cardiovascular clinical trials, contact heartclinicaltrials@honorhealth.com or 480-323-1046.