By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The University of Pennsylvania is helping to test a new procedure that could provide a cure for the millions of Americans with high blood pressure that can’t be controlled with medication.

Marianela Jimenez has had high blood pressure since she was 15, bringing daily headaches, fatigue, a pouding behind the eyes.

“I tried a lot of doctors,” said Jimenez. “They tried every single (medication) out there for me and nothing yet.”

Jimenez was pretty much out of options when she learned Penn was part of a nationwide study for a new procedure called renal denervation.

Radiowaves are sent through a catheter to kill the sympathetic nerves that can cause blood pressure to increase. Dr. Debbie Cohen says it takes 35 minutes and the patient stays conscious.

“This represents a fairly benign procedure for patients with no other options,” Cohen said. “So it could be really huge in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension.”

Jimenez traveled from Long Branch, New Jersey to take part and doesn’t know if she had the real procedure or is in the control group.

“Hopefully they did do it,” she said. “So we’ll see a good sign.

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