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'Aging Successfully' lecture to examine diabetes, hypertension

Labeled the "silent killers," diabetes and hypertension are insidious health problems that claim increasing numbers of Americans each year. This year's Catherine N. Stratton "Aging Successfully" lecture will examine these diseases and the questions they raise for the American population on Wednesday, April 25 in Wong Auditorium from 9:30am-noon.

Though not commonly known, 20 percent of the US population has diabetes, including an increasing number of children. In Massachusetts, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death. Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke, heart failure and kidney disease, and the Framingham Heart Study determined that 20 percent of our adult population can be classified as hypertensive.

The "Aging Successfully" lecture will examine possible explanations for these figures, such as lifestyle, heredity, environment and new methods of keeping medical statistics. A panel of experts -- moderated by Dr. William M. Kettyle, director of the MIT Medical Department and board-certified in both gerontology and endocrinology -- will also discuss how this trend can be interpreted and perhaps reversed.

Panelists will include Dr. Ronald A. Arky and Dr. Marc J. Semigran. Dr. Arky is past president of the American Diabetes Association and serves as chief of diabetes at Brigham & Women's Hospital; he also teaches at Harvard Medical School and in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program (HST). Dr. Semigran is a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. A graduate of HST, he is an expert on pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.

Using a case study approach, the panel will discuss how diabetes and hypertension are unique and where they overlap. The discussion will cover the epidemiology, especially in the United States; the spectrum of problems; clinical manifestations; current and future treatment; and some hopeful scenarios with proper management. There will be a question-and-answer session at the end.

Jointly sponsored by the MIT Women's League and MIT Medical, the program is free and open to the public. Coffee and tea will be served before the lecture.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 11, 2001.

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