Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD, DSc (hon), FRCPC
I spent the first 10 years of my professional life studying and treating hypertension. As a bit of a history buff, I dug out old books on hypertension and went back to reading papers on blood pressure that were written in the 20s and 30s. I also had numerous mentors, who were around well before the advent of modern diagnostics or pharmacotherapy. In retrospect, I believe that there is much we can learn from the history of hypertension.
In the early part of last century, as we learnt more about the physiology of blood pressure regulation, numerous forms of “secondary” hypertension were identified (e.g. renal artery stenosis, Conn’s Syndrome, pheochromocytoma, etc.). Although these were rare conditions, they taught us much about pathophysiology – but (to this day), most case of elevated blood pressure are still considered “essential”, meaning that they do not appear to have a defined cause (genetics and environment both play a big role but the details remain rather murky).