Pennington scientist tapped to share news on blood pressure

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Released: Monday, May 22, 2006

Stop it before it starts; older treatments work fine

BATON ROUGE, LA - With the growing, world wide concern about obesity comes the concern for increased blood pressure risks as well, and a local researcher has two important messages: the first is physicians may be able to stop high blood pressure before it starts.

Alok Gupta, M.D., a researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is an expert on blood pressure and diabetes, and works in the area called “pre-hypertension” or pre-high blood pressure. According to Gupta, individuals with blood pressure in the range of 130-139/85-89 are at risk of high blood pressure later on and should be treated with life style modifications. Life style modifications of decreasing weight and salt intake along with increase in exercise would be able to lower blood pressure to the normal, at or below 120/80.

Gupta says his second message is equally important: older medications work as well as the newest drugs, so don’t ignore them.

That information comes directly from the nation’s largest ever clinical trial of blood pressure medication. Gupta was a researcher in that study, and has now been asked to spread the news during May, Blood Pressure Awareness month.

The clinical trial’s actual name was the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial. It was sponsored by the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. The research group that undertook the study uses the short-hand ALLHAT, sponsored by NHLBI and has asked Dr. Alok Gupta to be a spokesperson for their team.

According to Dr. Gupta and the ALLHAT findings, circulated since 2003, older drugs, called diuretics, work equally as well as newer medications to lower blood pressure. Diuretics work by eliminating water from the body, and decreased water leads to lower blood pressure. The ALLHAT group recommends diuretics as a first course of action by physicians and encourages them to include diuretics along with other medications.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is a campus of the Louisiana State University System and conducts both clinical and basic research. It is the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world, with the greatest number of obesity researchers on faculty. The Center's nearly 600 employees occupy several buildings on the 234-acre campus.


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.