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Hypertension Program

The USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute is home to a multi-disciplinary Hypertension and Renal Disease Center designed to diagnose and treat hypertension, a chronic illness that affects as much as 25 percent of the U.S. population. The Center offers state of the art diagnostic testing and novel approaches to treatment including research studies offering cutting edge therapies for essential and secondary hypertension.

Mitra K. Nadim, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine and Co-Director of the Center, states that the Center is designed to tackle tough-to-treat hypertension cases that other physicians might feel uncomfortable treating.

For example, these patients may include those who are taking multiple drugs for high blood pressure and those whose blood pressure remains poorly controlled or patients with extremely high blood pressure.

The Center offers special expertise in the care of patients with secondary hypertension, that is, high blood pressure due to a specific cause such as disease of the kidney or the arteries that supply blood to the kidney.

The Center is also geared to treat people who are unable to maintain their blood pressure in the standing position and are often susceptible to fainting or dizziness when they stand up.

Fred Weaver, also a Co-Director , described the Center as a collaborative effort among nephrologists, cardiologists, and vascular surgeons.

As such, it represents one of only about 20 such centers focused on hypertension in the country.

"This kind of centerwhich offers extensive diagnostic services, 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, sophisticated ultrasound scanning, advanced biomedical testing and magnetic resonance angiographyis fairly rare, which is interesting when you realize that there are about 60 million Americans with hypertension," Weaver said.

He said that an important aspect of the Center would be not only its ability to treat high blood pressure but, in many cases, cure it.

"From a surgical perspective, I am excited about the fact that roughly 10 percent of patients have secondary hypertension, which is correctable," Weaver said. "Usually these patients high blood pressure which is caused by disease of the arteries of the kidneys that can be treated through endovascular means such as balloon angioplasty and stents or surgical procedures."

The primary advantage of a Center that focuses exclusively on hypertension diagnosis and treatment is that "only in this kind of setting are you going to have people looking for the kinds of hypertension that can be cured," Weaver said.

Nadim added that the new Center would also serve as an educational resource for the community, to better inform the public about the silent danger that chronic high blood pressure represents.

"The idea is to detect hypertension cases that can be corrected by intervention and also to help encourage healthy habits that can prevent it," she said.

Related article: Under Pressure

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