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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND LONGEVITY

DAVID RIESMAN, M.D., Sc.D.
JAMA. 1931;96(14):1105-1111. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720400003001.
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When the late Dr. William Stanton of Philadelphia invented his mercury blood pressure instrument, I immediately began to use it with the same zeal and curiosity with which, presumably, the contemporaries of Laënnec used the crude wooden stethoscope of his invention. Just as they heard things that must have seemed terribly ominous to them—so well brought out in the poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes—so I often saw things on the manometer that sent a chill into my heart.1 When I observed a systolic blood pressure of 180 or 200 or higher, I became, not at all in keeping with my innate optimism, depressed as to the patient's future prospects. I was sure that individuals with such blood pressures were doomed. But as my years of practice lengthened I began to realize that there were worse things than high blood pressure. There were patients who survived for an unexpectedly long

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