1984 Economics/Accounting grad John Bowers is COO of Kona Medical, a Bellevue start-up offering hope to people suffering from resistant high blood pressure.

John Bowers found his niche in the world of medical technology, working with an array of devices and treatments used to help improve care to patients. Today he’s chief operating officer for Kona Medical, a small start-up in Bellevue that focuses on ultrasound technologies.

More than a billion people have hypertension (high blood pressure) and about 10 percent of them have hypertension that is resistant to therapy, which puts people at an even greater risk of cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, heart failure, stroke.

Kona Medical knew that the power of ultrasound is not just in seeing the features of a baby in the womb. For decades, ultrasound has been used to diagnose and treat a number of other conditions, and Kona researchers wanted to see if it could work for treating
high blood pressure, too.

It does. Sound waves delivered from outside the body at high energy heat the nerves without impacting the artery. After treatment of about three minutes, the nerves surrounding the renal artery are effectively shut down.

So far, Kona has completed three studies, and results have been quite favorable. About three-quarters of patients saw a reduction in blood pressure by at least 10 mm mercury (for example going from 160/105 to 150/95) and about half reduce that number by 20.

“This cuts the risk of mortality in half, and even smaller reductions can lower the risk of stroke by almost 40 percent,” John says. “With our portable, noninvasive ultrasound therapy, we hope to bring better outcomes to millions of people worldwide.”

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