New hypertension clinic provides opportunities in research, education

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Students of SIU’s School of Medicine will have new educational and research opportunities at a recently launched hypertension clinic in Springfield.

The clinic was initiated by the School of Medicine’s clinical practice SIU HealthCare, which partners with hospitals and clinics throughout Illinois. It opened its doors on Aug. 27, offering services to hypertension patients who find it difficult to control their blood pressure.

Almost one-third of American adults have high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, kidney failure and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Dr. John Flack, director of the new clinic and chair of the department of internal medicine, hopes the clinic will lend support to the community and educate medical students about new methods of treatment.

Funding was provided by internal grants from the university and from partnering hospitals, according to Flack. He said the clinic would offer students new elective courses where they will receive state-of-the-art hypertension diagnosis assessment and treatment skills.

“The educational opportunities are going to be substantial,” Flack said.

Prescription medications are commonplace in hypertension treatment, but are not always fully effective and can produce side effects such as fatigue and lightheadedness. Recent advancements in hypertension technology have given more effective results for patients with severe hypertension through nerve-stimulating implants.

Flack is also exploring treatment that does not add to an already long list of medications or require surgery. Instead, he hopes to lower his patients’ blood pressure with the lowest possible amount of medication and with diet and exercise programs.

A main part of Flack’s research has dealt with resistant hypertension, which is classified as blood pressure which remains above normal level despite use of at least three medications.

New research conducted by Flack and his staff supports a non-invasive form of potential treatment for resistant hypertension through high doses of Vitamin D supplements in patients who have Vitamin D deficiency.   

Flack said their data shows signs of weight loss as a result of the treatment in patients who are Vitamin D deficient, which could provide the added benefit of combating obesity — a condition associated with the development of hypertension.

Flack said the new facility is also equipped to screen for uncommon forms of hypertension, which go undiagnosed in some cases.

“I think it’s pretty exciting, not only for the students but also for the interns and residents that are in our training program, as well as some specialty fellows who would be interested in working with us,” he said.

Bill Lukitsch can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bill_LukitschDE.