Soundinig-out high blood pressure in diabetics

Blood pressure can significantly drop by applying 20 minutes of ultrasound to the forearms of people with type II diabetes and treatment-resistant hypertension, according to Japanese research.

Applying ultrasound could be a cheap, non-invasive method to address treatment-resistant hypertension.

High blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths worldwide and can be difficult to control in some patients with type II diabetes.

Dr Katsunori Nonogaki of Tohoku University’s department of diabetes technology and colleagues enrolled 212 type II diabetes patients with treatment-resistant hypertension.

The patients were divided into four groups. One received 20 minutes of low frequency (800 kHz), low intensity ultrasound irradiation to the forearm. Another received an even lower frequency (500 kHz) of ultrasound irradiation for 20 minutes. The other two groups were used as controls, receiving a placebo procedure.

The researchers found that blood pressure and pulse rates were significantly reduced after both 800 kHz and 500 kHz irradiation sessions compared to pre-treatment levels. Blood pressure levels were also lower than those of the placebo groups, but significantly so in the case of the 500 kHz treatment.

No adverse effects were found in either group as a result of the ultrasound treatment. How ultrasound improves blood pressure in these patients is still unclear, but it might suppress sympathetic nerve activity, responsible for the fight or flight response, by means of nerve pathways from the forearm to the cardiovascular system, the researchers say.

“We do not have specific treatments for resistant hypertension,” says Nonogaki. “The cost of anti-hypertensive agents for patients is high. Ultrasound has the advantage of being cheap and non-invasive.”

Nonogaki is currently in the process of looking for international business partners for the Japanese-developed ultrasound device, called NeuroHealer. Also on the team’s agenda is determining whether ultrasound irradiation can help patients with ‘white coat hypertension’ (people who show high blood pressure in a doctor’s office), ‘masked hypertension’ (people who show normal blood pressure in a doctor’s office but elevated blood pressure outside it) or an acute stroke.

The research results were published in the International Journal of Cardiology.

Did you know?
High blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths worldwide.

Further information
Professor Katsunori Nonogaki | E-mail: [email protected]
Department of Diabetes Technology, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering
Tohoku University

Meet the Expert

Dr. Nonogaki (pictured below), a specialist of diabetes care, is a professor of Department of Diabetes Technology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering in Japan. He has obtained PhD in Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes. Then, he worked as a Postdoc Research Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla. During this period, his research has mainly focused on “cytokines and lipid metabolism”, and “brain serotonin systems and energy homeostasis”. Lorcaserin (Belviq), a selective 5-HT2C receptor agonist, which is used for the treatment of obesity, is based on the original research works by Dr. Nonogaki et al. Current studies are to determine the physiological mechanisms and potential treatment for obesity, diabetes and their complications. Dr. Nonogaki is also developing novel medical devices for hypertension and diabetes. Dr. Nonogaki is an Editor-in-Chief for Integrative Obesity & Diabetes and J Diabetes & Obesity.


Professor Katsunori Nonogaki.

Published: 14 Apr 2017


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