UHealth Cardiovascular Medicine Adds Renal Denervation to Comprehensive Hypertension Care

Article Summary
  • Yiannis S. Chatzizisis, M.D., Ph.D., and Nikolaos Spilias, M.D., performed the first Symplicity™ blood pressure procedure in Florida.
  • UHealth’s Comprehensive Hypertension Center is the first center in the state to offer the renal denervation procedure.
  • UHealth physicians have identified renal denervation procedures as possibilities for patients who haven’t responded to hypertension medication.

Felix Rondon has battled hypertension all his life.

Despite taking medications, his blood pressure remained dangerously high until interventional cardiologists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine treated him in December with a new procedure, renal denervation (RDN). His blood pressure has dropped significantly, lowering his risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. 

Yiannis S. Chatzizisis, M.D., Ph.D., professor in and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Miller School, and Nikolaos Spilias, M.D., assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, performed the first procedure in Florida using an innovative RDN system. They treated Rondon with Medtronic’s Symplicity™ blood pressure procedure, which uses radiofrequency energy to disrupt overactive sympathetic nerves in the kidney arteries.

First in Florida to Use New Technology for Hypertension

“We are proud and excited to be the first center in Florida and among the very few centers in the U.S. to offer this innovative technology to help patients with uncontrolled hypertension,” said Dr. Chatzizisis. “It is an important addition to our comprehensive heart wellness program to prevent cardiovascular disease and achieve the best possible outcomes for our community.”

Dr. Chatzizisis and Dr. Spiias in the operating room
Dr. Chatzizisis and Dr. Spilias were the first physicians in Florida to use Medtronic’s Symplicity™ blood pressure procedure.

In January, Dr. Chatzizisis and Dr. Spilias also performed the first two RDN procedures in South Florida with the Paradise® ultrasound renal denervation system, which uses ultrasound energy for the same purpose. Both therapies were recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an adjunct to medical therapy and are available through the Miller School’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and UHealth—University of Miami Health System’s Comprehensive Hypertension Center, which is certified by the American Heart Association.

Paradise® ultrasound renal denervation system
The Paradise® ultrasound renal denervation system uses ultrasound energy to disrupt overactive nerves in the kidney arteries.

“RDN is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure, similar to a heart catheterization,” said Dr. Spilias. “The patient is given mild sedation and a small catheter is inserted through the groin and directed to the kidney arteries. The procedure takes about one hour and is very safe. Most patients go home the same day and can quickly resume their normal activities.”

Managing High Blood Pressure

Maria Delgado-Lelievre, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and founding director of the Comprehensive Hypertension Center, said high blood pressure is a serious health problem affecting about half of the U.S. population.

Maria Delgado-Lelievre, M.D., in her white coat
Maria Delgado-Lelievre, M.D., the founding director of the Comprehensive Hypertension Center, says RDN therapies are promising for patients who don’t respond to medications.

“It is a big reason why people get heart disease and stroke, and one of the main reasons why people die,” she said, adding that family history of high blood pressure increases risk and managing high blood pressure is a key way to avoid heart problems in the future.

“Our preventive cardiology and hypertension centers have four pillars of care: wellness, lifestyle, medical and interventional procedures,” said Dr. Delgado-Lelievre. “We follow a holistic approach, with experts in many fields, including endocrinologists, nutritionists and genetic experts. These two RDN procedures are promising therapies for patients whose blood pressure remains uncontrolled after taking multiple medications and those who cannot tolerate certain medications.”

Effective Treatments for Hypertension

Rondon came to the Comprehensive Hypertension Center in 2021, where he has been treated by Dr. Delgado.

“I’ve always known I’ve had high blood pressure and had chest pain on two occasions,” he said. “I had a stent inserted into a blocked coronary artery in 2005 and underwent open heart surgery 15 years later.  Dr. Delgado has been working with me on adjusting my medications, but my blood pressure was never well controlled. When she told me about the new procedure, I took it.”

Since undergoing the RDN procedure, Rondon said his blood pressure has dropped about 10 points.

“I know exercise and good eating habits can help,” he added. “Now, I’m going to follow my doctor’s recommendations to help keep my hypertension under control.”


To schedule an appointment with the Comprehensive Hypertension Center, call 305-243-5554, ext. 2.

Tags: Cardiovascular Division, Comprehensive Hypertension Center, Dr. Maria Delgado-Lelievre, Dr. Nikolaos Spilias, Dr. Yiannis Chatzizisis