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Cedars-Sinai Hypertension Center Designated a Comprehensive Expert Care Center by the American Society of Hypertension

Los Angeles - Oct. 14, 2014 – The Cedars-Sinai Hypertension Center has been certified as a Comprehensive Hypertension Center by the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), the largest organization of clinical hypertension specialists and hypertension researchers in the United States. The Cedars-Sinai Hypertension Center is one of only a dozen designated comprehensive hypertension centers in the United States – and the only such center in California -- certified to provide advanced care for patients who have difficult-to-treat hypertension and related conditions.

"The vast majority of patients with hypertension can control their high blood pressure with standard medications and lifestyle changes," said Ronald Victor, MD, director of the center, associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Burns and Allen Chair in Cardiology Research. "But we earned this new designation because we have the multidisciplinary expertise to help doctors with the 20 percent of patients who have particularly difficult hypertension."

Patients with hard-to-control high blood pressure often require the help of endocrinologists, interventional radiologists, laproscopic surgeons, cardiologists, and other experts who can get to the root cause of each patient's condition.

"We have a multidisciplinary team in place in the Cedars-Sinai Hypertension Center that can determine the cause of the hypertension," Victor said. "We have become a referral center for patients with hormonal causes of hypertension."

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The measurement is recorded as two numbers, with the first number measuring the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts or beats. The second number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure in a healthy adult measures about 120 over 80, and high blood pressure is generally considered to be 140 over 90 or higher.

Hypertension often is called a "silent killer," because patients usually don't experience symptoms. But when blood pressure is high, it forces the heart to work harder and can lead to injured blood vessels. It also can lead to kidney and eye damage, as well as life-threatening conditions like heart disease and stroke. Factors like smoking, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to hypertension. Alcohol and salt consumption, stress, genetics and kidney disease also can contribute to the condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, and the condition contributes to nearly1,000 deaths a day.

"Controlling hypertension is one of the highest goals of our Heart Institute," said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "We have extensive experience in treating the most difficult cases with the most sophisticated treatments, ranging from the newest medications to surgical interventions."

African-Americans suffer disproportionately from hypertension. "Hypertension is one of the biggest health problems affecting the African-American community today," Victor said.

Victor was the first to subject increasingly popular barbershop-based health programs to scientific scrutiny with randomized, controlled testing. His study, published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed that if barbers offered blood pressure checks during men's haircuts and encouraged hypertensive patrons to follow up with physicians, hundreds of lives could be saved annually.

With the new grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Victor is about to start a randomized, controlled clinical trial that will include 500 African-American male patrons of 20 Los Angeles-area barbershops. All participants will have uncontrolled hypertension and be longtime customers of the participating barbershops. The goal of the new trial is to test the effectiveness of barbershop-centered hypertension programs and whether expanding such programs is feasible and cost-effective. The Cedars-Sinai-led research study will be conducted in partnership with several California medical centers.