Implantable device helps lower high blood pressure

Peter Hunt says life in his English village is more enjoyable now that he's found a way to keep his resistant high blood pressure under control. The 62-year-old is enrolled in a clinical trial to test out a tiny device which he had implanted in his upper thigh two years ago.

"It stops you thinking to yourself, 'Oh God, blood pressure is up again, why is it up again?,'" Hunt told CBS News.

The paper clip-size device is called a coupler. It diverts blood to a nearby vein, relieving the strain on the artery and reducing the heart's workload. A new study published Thursday in the journal Lancet finds the device successfully works to stabilize blood pressure in patients.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London recruited 83 patients, most in their late 50s, who were taking at least five blood pressure medications. Patients who received the coupler were able to lower their blood pressure by around 15 percent. They also had fewer complications and visited the hospital less frequently than those who weren't given the device.

"The patients were feeding back to us; they had substantial blood pressure lowering and were asking for their medications to be reduced," said Dr. Melvin Lobo, a clinical hypertension specialist at London Bridge Hospital, and lead researcher on the study.

The coupler is easily inserted in the leg in a procedure that takes about 40 minutes. Hunt says the only side effect he's experienced from the device is some swelling in his leg, which occurred in some other patients enrolled in the study.

Doctors say it will take several more years before the device is approved. A clinical trial on the coupler is set to begin in the U.S. later this year.