Harold Szerlip, MD, professor in the University of Arizona Department of Medicine and vice chair of internal medicine at The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, has been awarded a $32,000 grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation to fund new equipment that allows for the noninvasive measurement of central blood pressure in patients.
The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, 2800 E. Ajo Way, will be the first hospital in Arizona to purchase the SphygmoCor® system, made by AtCor Medical.
“This will give us a much better assessment of the actual blood pressure that is affecting the vital organs. As opposed to only what’s going on in the arm, it will tell us what’s happening in the center of the body,” Dr. Szerlip said.
The SphygmoCor® system uses a noninvasive tonometer, or pressure sensor, to measure pulse waves in the arm, which are then used to calculate central aortic blood pressure. Unlike a traditional blood pressure cuff – which measures pressure in the brachial artery, the major blood vessel in the upper arm – the SphygmoCor® system uses an algorithm to calculate pressure in the aorta, the large artery into which the heart pumps. The system also measures arterial stiffness, which can be associated with cardiovascular disease.
Central blood pressure has been shown to be a better predictor of cardiovascular events than the traditional method of measuring blood pressure. More importantly, many of the medications used to treat high blood pressure may have differing effects on central blood pressure and arm blood pressure, Dr. Szerlip said. Those differing effects may explain why despite similar ability to lower arm blood pressure, some medications appear to provide better cardiovascular protection than others.
The ability to measure central blood pressure and arterial stiffness will allow the physicians at The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus to tailor appropriate therapy for patients with hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The new equipment eventually will be housed in the hospital’s Center for Diabetes, slated for completion in early 2013.
“We are delighted that Dr. Szerlip brought forward the proposal for this equipment and very much appreciate the Tohono O’Odham Nation’s recognition of its value in treating individuals at risk for or diagnosed with diabetes,” said Honey Pivirotto, assistant county administrator for health policy.
Dr. Szerlip’s grant proposal, submitted on behalf of the Pima County Health Department, was selected from more than 270 proposals as a recipient of grant funding from the Tohono O’odham Nation’s 12 percent gaming distribution program.