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Hypertension

During Fred Bowerbank's time as Cardiologist, hypertension was generally ignored.  In the 1940s there was a vogue for using a low sodium diet in patients with malignant hypertension.  A breakthrough occurred in 1950 when, from Dunedin, Horace Smirk reported on the successful use of hexamethonium by subcutaneous injection 2 - 3 times/day in 15 patients with severe hypertension.  A major side-effect was postural hypotension.

Physicians at Wellington Hospital began using hexamethonium soon after Smirk's report, the patients being admitted to hospital until control was achieved without symptomatic postural hypotension.  This practice imposed a significant load on available beds.   In 1954 Charles Burns and other physicians proposed that a Hypertension Clinic be established, a concept that Smirk had pioneered.   Approval was given for the clinic, initially referred to as the Hexamethonium Clinic, and for the appointment of a part-time physician in charge, and up to two technicians.

Ponty Hallwright, who had been appointed visiting Assistant Physician in 1953, was appointed as the founding Physician-in-charge, Hypertension Clinic in 1955.   It had been intended that the clinic be sited in ward 1A, but this plan fell through and it was initially established in ward 2.