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Pressure Situation

On December 4, 1906, Doctor Robert Wallace Wilkins was born in Tennessee. He was a clinical investigator of cardiovascular function and disease.

Wilkins began his career at Johns Hopkins University as a circulation research associate and instructor in medicine. He became professor, then, Chief of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Early in his career, the medical thinking about hypertension was that high blood pressure was useful when it could force blood through narrowing arteries. Wilkins knew that high blood pressure added to heart and artery workloads and that, over time, could damage blood vessels and other organs to cause organ failure or stroke. He measured blood flow and its pressures to the skin, to different muscles, to the liver, and to the kidneys.

Treating hypertension was a complicated affair. Patients had different medications for different ranges of damage from high blood pressures. Wilkins researched medications from around the world to find effective medicines that could be used in combination with those already prescribed that could manage hypertension. He proposed a stepped treatment approach in which he could gradually add a medication to a patient’s regimen that could achieve the lowering of blood pressure without adding harmful impact or side effects to other parts of the body. Wilkins never stopped looking for effective therapeutic controls for patients. He found uses for herbal treatments as well as drugs that proved effective in combination with others already used in a patient’s treatment.

He served as President of the American Heart Association and received the Lasker Award for his investigations into hypertension causes, diagnosis, and treatment. The Boston University School of Medicine honours his name in its Robert W. Wilkins Academy, an advisor program for mentoring and career development.

Dr. Robert W. Wilkins
Dr. Robert W. Wilkins
[Boston University School of Medicine]

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