AHA names Jefferson one of five top U.S. hypertension centers.

The Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has been named a “Comprehensive Hypertension Center” by the American Society of Hypertension (ASH). Jefferson is one of only five in the country to earn this recognition for its “advanced diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of complex hypertension and associated disorders.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 65 million Americans are living with high blood pressure. “A large portion of these patients can be treated successfully with lifestyle modification or pharmacological treatment,” says Bonita Falkner, MD, a professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, nephrologist and ASH-Certified Hypertension Specialists at Jefferson.

Dr. Falkner and Lawrence Ward, MD, associate professor and vice chair for Clinical Practice at the department, head the Jefferson program and are experts in treating complex or treatment-resistant hypertension. They say the program employs a cohesive approach that combines primary care physicians, nephrologists, cardiologists, internists, endocrinologists and a pharmacist.

Ward said in a statement that they have a set of tactics to treat these patients that are not known to the average treating physician. He explained that they “work with patients to identify what’s behind their persistently high blood pressure, evaluate whether the medications and doses they’re taking are appropriate, and help fine-tune their medications to come up with the most effective combination and doses. Some medications, foods or supplements can actually worsen high blood pressure or prevent high blood pressure medications from working effectively.”

Dr. Falkner specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents with hypertension. The number of cases are increasing in the U.S., with approximately five percent diagnosed with primary or secondary hypertension.

Dr. Falkner said that it is important for patients to know that their lack of control over their hypertension is often not their fault: “Sometimes diet, exercise and the most common medications just can’t get it under control, especially in patients with a strong family history. Our Center can work with these patients to meet their goals and avoid many of the common side effects.”

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