“IT’S taken away that constant fear you have of dropping dead on the street.”

Those are the words of a patient who underwent a groundbreaking operation to help cure his high blood pressure.

Barry Martin, 69, has suffered from high blood pressure for 15 years – a condition that increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks in millions of people across Britain.

But thanks to a revolutionary new procedure carried out by surgeons at Southampton General Hospital, the grandfather- of-two is looking forward to a better quality of life.

As reported exclusively in yesterday’s Daily Echo, Barry, from Whiteparish, was one of two patients to have the operation on Thursday.

The new surgery is completed under a local anaesthetic and can lower blood pressure in just 45 minutes, using radio waves to burn away nerve tissue around the kidney arteries.

Following the procedure, known as renal denervation, Barry told the Daily Echo: “The operation was a surprise. I didn’t know about it until last Thursday!

“But I take six tablets a day for high blood pressure, so it made sense to have it done to try to reduce that number. That was a big attraction to me when deciding to go for it. “It’s all gone very well. It’s taken away that constant fear you have of dropping dead on the street.

“It’s always there and you don’t know it. It really is a silent killer.”

Barry’s wife of 42 years, Lynda, 61, said: “I’m really glad he’s had it done because over the years his blood pressure has been a major worry in our lives.”

Catherine Terry, 66, was the second patient to undergo the new procedure this week.

The grandmother-of-six, who lives with her husband, Don, in Ringwood, has suffered from high blood pressure for 20 years.

But she has struggled with the condition because her medication leaves her with headaches and muscle pains for eight hours every day.

Catherine, who works as a GP in Bransgore, said: “I’m hoping it will drop my blood pressure substantially. It’s probably too optimistic to think that it will cure it completely, but my chances in life will be improved substantially if my blood pressure drops even a little.

“There are a lot of people like me who can’t tolerate their medication, so I’d definitely recommend the procedure to them.”

Consultant interventional cardiologist Dr James Wilkinson and Dr Allan Odurny, a consultant interventional radiologist, performed the two procedures together at Southampton General Hospital on Thursday, with three more cases due over the next month.

It is predicted there will be up to 400 procedures commissioned in the next year, with between 30 and 40 of those in Southampton.