Desperate diseases, desperate measures: Tackling malignant hypertension in the 1950s

Ventura, H. O., Mehra, M. R. and Messerli, F. H. (2001) Desperate diseases, desperate measures: Tackling malignant hypertension in the 1950s. American Heart Journal, 142 2: 197-203. doi:10.1067/mhj.2001.116480

Author Ventura, H. O.
Mehra, M. R.
Messerli, F. H.
Title Desperate diseases, desperate measures: Tackling malignant hypertension in the 1950s
Journal name American Heart Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0002-8703
Publication date 2001-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1067/mhj.2001.116480
Volume 142
Issue 2
Start page 197
End page 203
Total pages 7
Place of publication Philadelphia, PA, United States
Publisher Mosby
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: The conquest of malignant hypertension is one of the most important medical achievements of the second half of the 20th century. As we enter the new millennium, it is critical to examine the efforts that have led to our ability to treat this once incurable disease.

Methods: Review was performed of the literature from 1900 to the 1950s regarding the etiology, clinical evaluation, and treatment of hypertension, focusing on malignant hypertension.

Results: Fifty years ago, in a time of sparse treatment options, the occurrence of malignant hypertension was a dreaded event that taxed the aptitude of the clinician. Confronted with an "extreme disease," physicians chose to use "extreme methods of cure" in conformity with the teaching of Hippocrates. In the 1950s malignant hypertension was treated with such drastic measures as rice diet, sympathectomy, and intravenous pyrogens.

Conclusions: In the practice of medicine today, while work is being done to reassert biomolecular mechanisms, we still face patients who have reached the end stages of failure and manifest devastating morbidity. These patients are subjected to "extreme therapies" reminiscent of those that surrounded malignant hypertension in the past. In an era when adequate treatment of hypertension has become a reality for so many patients, it is appropriate to give credit to those who paved the way to such great progress.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Medicine Publications
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Created: Mon, 14 Mar 2011, 10:17:36 EST