1258 GMT February 19, 2020
The carotid body is an organ found between two major arteries, express.co.uk reported.
Now experts have revealed the organ could control blood pressure.
Scientists at the University of Bristol have found a new way to treat the condition, which affects one in four adults in the UK.
Professor Julian Paton, at the University of Bristol, and Dr. Angus Nightingale, consultant at the Bristol Heart Institute found the carotid body appear to be a cause of high blood pressure.
They found removing one carotid body from some patients with high blood pressure caused an immediate fall in blood pressure.
Nightingale said, "The falls in blood pressure we have seen are impressive — more than you would see with pharmacological medication — and demonstrate the exciting potential there now is for targeting the carotid body to treat hypertension."
Experts said the carotid bodies can sense the levels of oxygen in the blood.
When it falls, they send signals to the brain to increase breathing and blood pressure.
The scientists said that this is similar to having the thermostat in the home set too high.
Paton added, “Treating the carotid body is a novel approach and a potential game changer as we believe we are reducing one of the main causes for hypertension in many patients.
“High blood pressure treatment typically tackles the symptoms targeting the end organs such as the heart, kidneys and blood vessels and not the causes."
The experts said that they have also developed tests to assess which patients have overactive carotid bodies. This could help medics personalize treatment.
The clinical trial found the carotid bodies in patients who responded to resection had raise carotid body activity — which means they breathed more at rest.
The experts added they realized the method of treated high blood pressure with surgery would not be sustainable in the long term.
However, they explained they could find a drug which dampens down an overactive carotid body — and might have found the key to resetting the ‘thermostat’ to normal.
Experts believe the molecule which could treat the condition could be the first novel anti-hypertensive treatment strategy in more than 15 years.
This comes after it was revealed inflammation in the arteries could trigger a condition called vasculitis.