New device helps those with high BP

HOUSTON Rickey Bookman is a pastor who raises Dobermans and a father who lives with an internal time bomb. His blood pressure hits lethal levels like 230 over 175, even after 32 combinations of medicines.

"I couldn't even drive. Now the pills would take over and I could be having a conversation with someone and just go to sleep in the middle of the conversation," said high blood pressure patient Rickey Bookman.

His high blood pressure unnerved his doctors, who would say:

"You need to go to the ER -- you're at stroke level," said Rickey's wife Julie Bookman.

He was out of options when he heard about an experimental pacemaker for blood pressure.

The implanted device sends electrical impulses through the wires and into the brain, fooling it into dropping the blood pressure.

"There are some patients who have gotten down to a normal range," said Dr. Eric Peden with Methodist DeBakey Heart Center.

Some in the national study have already had great improvement. Bookman was the first Houston patients at Methodist.

"He has really bad blood pressure. All of us have a setting where his blood pressure should be and his is way off the charts," said Dr. Peden.

But one week after the blood pressure pacemaker was turned on Bookman's blood pressure dropped to 166 over 109.

"We'd like to get the bottom number out of the three-digits," said Julie.

And it will probably go lower as doctors tweak the strength of the electrical current. And Bookman may finally be able to drop some of those mind numbing medications.

"I'll be able to start back driving, that risk of heart attack and stroke and kidney failure all that will be reduced," said Rickey. "It'll be good to get my life back."

The study is open to patients with extremely high blood pressure.

For more information you can call 1-888-8BP-RISK or go to blood pressure


Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter.

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