Leading organization awards University of Chicago Medicine Hypertension Center its highest designation

Leading organization awards University of Chicago Medicine Hypertension Center its highest designation

April 9, 2012

The American Society of Hypertension (ASH), the largest organization of hypertension researchers and health care providers in the United States, has designated the University of Chicago Medicine as a Comprehensive Hypertension Center, the first in the Chicago area. This designation is the highest level of formal recognition by ASH for academic medical centers that demonstrate expertise in treating patients with complex hypertension and its co-morbidities.

The University of Chicago Medicine Hypertension Center is directed by George Bakris, MD, a designated hypertension specialist and professor of medicine. "The Comprehensive Hypertension Center designation is a feather in the cap for the University of Chicago Medicine," said Bakris, who is also the president of the board of directors for ASH. "It distinguishes the University as a center of excellence for hypertensive diseases, because no one else in the city has it."

ASH created the Designated Hypertension Center program to recognize medical centers and large practices that treat complex hypertension cases and support or participate in advanced research. A comprehensive hypertension center must devote more than 50 percent of its practice to patients with hypertension and related disorders, employ staff certified in advanced blood pressure monitoring techniques including patient self-monitoring and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring devices, conduct cardiovascular risk assessments and participate in investigator-initiated research or multicenter trials and studies. In addition, the center must be located in an academic medical center or large multispecialty clinic, have the capability to perform extensive multispecialty examination and treatment, conduct basic and applied research, provide hypertension specialist training and publish scholarly articles on hypertension and related disorders.

The University of Chicago Medicine Hypertension Center offers individualized care through inpatient and outpatient consultation to patients who have hypertension in addition to other complex health conditions, including early kidney disease, diabetes, high risk for heart attack or stroke, and previous occurrence of heart attack or stroke.

The center is also a national leader in hypertension research. Bakris is the national co-principal investigator of the Simplicity HTN-3 trial on refractory hypertension, and principal investigator of the AMETHYST trial dealing with potassium management in people with kidney disease and hypertension. The center provides patients with leading-edge treatment techniques, including quantitative echocardiography, exercise testing, measurement of arterial compliance, ankle-brachial index testing and carotid Doppler measurements. "Basically, it's one-stop shopping for hypertension," Bakris said.

In addition to Bakris, the hypertension center is staffed by Matthew Sorrentino, MD, professor of medicine and designated hypertension specialist, a dedicated hypertension fellow and nursing and research staff. The University is also recruiting an additional designated hypertension specialist. Fellows from the cardiology and endocrinology programs rotate through the hypertension center along with internal medicine trainees.

ASH was founded in 1985 in order to provide a forum for the exchange of information among basic scientists, clinical investigators and others involved in the study or management of high blood pressure. Its specific focus is to translate current research findings on hypertension into effective treatment strategies, in order to better address the needs of hypertensive patients.