HANDLING THE PRESSURE: The MGH hypertension exhibit
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects more than 30 million Americans annually and is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. To help promote awareness, physicians in the Institute for Heart, Vascular and Stroke Care have now teamed with the Museum of Science in Boston to help educate the thousands of visitors who pass through the museum doors on a daily basis about the disease and possible treatment options.
“This is such an important issue,” says Randall Zusman, MD, director of the MGH Division of Hypertension. “Ninety percent of people over the age of 55 will develop hypertension, so this is an extremely timely and significant topic. We are thrilled to be a part of such an exciting exhibit focused on new and exciting treatments and research opportunities in the Boston area.”
The museum’s new 10,000-square-foot permanent “Hall of Human Life” exhibit opened Nov. 16. Along with the MGH display, it provides a number of interactive components designed to highlight breakthroughs in biology and biotechnology. Zusman says the hypertension section features a model artery that simulates blood pressure, a detailed look inside a blood vessel and personal video accounts from two MGH patients being treated for hypertension.
After being diagnosed with hypertension more than a decade ago, John Glessner has used a combination of medications, exercise and healthy eating habits to keep his high blood pressure under control. The 83-year-old says he hopes sharing his story as part of the exhibit helps others recognize early warning signs and the importance of having regular checkups.
“My hope is that people see that by listening to the sage advice of a doctor like Dr. Zusman, following a medication regime and an exercise routine, and by keeping their weight down, they will vastly reduce their risks,” Glessner says. “As long as they follow a plan – and they’ve got to stick with it – they will benefit considerably. A lot of this comes with consulting with a doctor and not being so reticent with admitting that they don’t feel well. My treatment certainly doesn’t affect my lifestyle adversely.”
WONDERFUL HANDS: Members of the hypertension research team are, front row, from left, Keith Marple, Moussa Mansour, MD, Sharon McKenna, RN, Kenneth Rosenfield, MD; back row, Joseph Garasic, MD, Michael Jaff, MD, Zusman, and Suvranu Ganguli, MD.
Peter Fiedler, 61, also is featured in the exhibit. Twenty-five years ago, following a routine blood pressure check, Fiedler was diagnosed with borderline hypertension. Despite being in his mid-30s, he was placed on an early interventional protocol due to his family history of heart disease. “I really have had no negative impact,” Fiedler says. “I see Dr. Zusman regularly, and I’m fortunate that I haven’t had any other health issues. I feel like I’m in wonderful hands.”
The hypertension exhibit also showcases research currently underway at the MGH, including treatment of resistant hypertension with renal denervation, which uses radiofrequency pulses to disrupt kidney nerve connections, a procedure that can result in lowered blood pressure.
“I think it’s really important that people not be afraid of the diagnosis of high blood pressure – it’s not a death sentence,” Fiedler says. “Early intervention and care along with lifestyle modifications can make a world of difference. The exhibit is a fascinating presentation and a compelling opportunity to look at overall health and the human body.”
For more information about hypertension treatments at the MGH, call 617-726-1335.
Read more articles from the 12/06/13 Hotline issue.