Upstate News

October 10, 2000
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

David H.P. Streeten, leading researcher into the cause and diagnosis of hypertension, is dead at 78

David H. P. Streeten, professor emeritus of medicine at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University at Syracuse whose early research contributed to the discovery of a new cause of hypertension, died Sept. 30 at University Hospital in Syracuse. He was 78. The cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage, according to his wife, Barbara W. Streeten, M.D., professor of ophthalmology and pathology at the SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Streeten’s nearly 50 years of study of hypertension has led to various breakthroughs in the treatment of the disease as well as to a greater understanding of its causes and symptoms. His use of a novel bioassay for the hormone aldosterone in 1954 was instrumental in the discovery of a new cause of hypertension, primary aldosteronism, which is now routinely curable by removal of the adrenal tumor.

Streeten, who after graduating as a physician in Johannesburg, South Africa, earned a doctorate in pharmacology from Oxford University in 1951, continued his research when he joined the SUNY Upstate Medical University (then Upstate Medical Center) in 1960 as an associate professor of medicine, where he developed an outpatient procedure for diagnosing primary aldosteronism and other forms of secondary hypertension. This procedure was used in the Upstate Medical University’s Clinical Research Center on more than 5,000 hypertensive patients, hundreds of whom were cured of their hypertension by recognizing and treating adrenal, renal and other mechanisms of their high blood pressure.

His subsequent studies of interactions between the adrenal and pituitary glands and the sympathetic nervous system have shed new light on the mechanisms and clinical manifestations of low blood pressure. He demonstrated for the first time that a fall in blood pressure in the upright posture can result not only from a reduced circulating blood volume, but also from failure of the veins in the lower limbs to contract normally in the standing position.

Streeten has written more than 200 papers, chapters and books, and received numerous awards for his research, including the 1998 Irvine Page-Alva Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award for Hypertension Research from the American Heart Association. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Dysautonomia Research Foundation earlier this year.

Prior to his appointment at the SUNY Upstate Medical University, Streeten held various posts, including as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, and assistant professorship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His affiliation with SUNY Upstate Medical University began in 1960, when he joined the institution as an associate professor of medicine. He became professor of medicine in 1964 and emeritus professor in 1994. He served as chief of the Endocrine Section from 1960 until 1994.

In addition to his wife, Streeten is survived by a daughter Elizabeth Streeten, M.D. of Ellicott City, Md.; and two sons, Robert D. of Corning, N.Y.; and John P. of Vienna, Va.

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