February 19, 2009


Dr. Thomas Horton Presents Public Health Lecture On Hypertension

“Hypertension” (often referred to as the “Silent Killer”) was the focus of a public health lecture at Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) on February 18 as part of a series of free public lectures on health issues for people in the College’s service area. The lecture was presented by Dr. Thomas Horton. Approximately 250 people were in attendance.

Dr. Horton was introduced by NACC President, Dr. David Campbell, who said, “We appreciate your being here today for our series of presentations on health issues. The origin of these presentations is in the name of the building that we are in – the health education center, which houses our health care programs.

“In addition to housing our health care programs and providing training for our students, we also want Northeast and this building to be a center for information on health care issues that affect our students, faculty, staff, and the community. This is another way that we hope we can improve health and the quality of life for all those which Northeast serves.” He thanked Susan Barron for putting the lecture series together.

“We are very pleased to have Dr. Thomas Horton with us today as our speaker,” stated Campbell. “He will discuss a very important health care concern – hypertension.

“Dr. Horton is one of our outstanding local physicians. His office is Family Practice in Rainsville. This is a family practice medical clinic that he established. He also is on the staff of DeKalb Regional Medical Center.

“He is a native of Mississippi and graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He completed his family practice residency at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Horton is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians.”

Horton, formerly a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical School, used a PowerPoint presentation to discuss facts and statistics on many topics including the definition, complications, risk factors, prevention, and treatment of hypertension. Following the presentation, he answered several questions from the audience concerning the topic.

Horton explained that most people really can’t tell they have high blood pressure. There are no early warning signs or symptoms. The normal blood pressure reading has been 120/80, but new studies show that a more desired reading should be 100/60. Readings are supposed to be variable. There is no defined stroke range and there is no magic number for a pressure reading. The size of the cuff matters; it must cover two-thirds of the upper arm area. Blood pressure will usually affect the kidneys more than the heart.

Risk factors include congenital anomalies, smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obstructive processes (kidney stones, tumors, etc.). Prevention includes maintaining optimal weight, exercising, stopping smoking, controlling glucose, controlling lipids, and checking blood pressure regularly. Treatment involves one or more of the following: limiting sodium, diuretics, beta blockers, alpha blockers, ACE inhibitors/ARB, calcium channel blockers, and centrally acting agents. Medications for high blood pressure, he noted, are like any others in that they can have side effects, but the key is finding the medication and dosage that is just right for the person. When administered properly, these medications can be highly effective.

Horton advises limiting the use of salt; it is usually a habit to consume it. He also advises a look at lifestyles. “Get into a regular exercise program to lose weight and tone muscles,” he suggested. “Stay away from the bad lifestyle of excessive alcohol and tobacco use. Get plenty of rest and do nothing in excess. Doing things in moderation just makes good sense. Take good care of yourself.” Horton noted that our area, like many parts of the South, does have a higher than average hypertension rate. He attributed this high rate to the types of foods southerners eat, as well as problems with obesity, and lack of exercise.

Following numerous questions from students, Dr. David Campbell, President of Northeast, stated, “We thank Dr. Horton for being with us today. He has given us some very valuable information and put a lot of work into this presentation. Thank you all for being here.”

For more information about the Health Care public lecture series, contact Susan Barron, Director of Events Planning, at or phone ext. 248.

Welcoming Dr. Thomas Horton to the NACC campus are, pictured left to right, Susan Barron, Director of Events Planning at NACC; Jacob Holcomb, NACC Student majoring in the health care field; Dr. Horton; and Dr. David Campbell, NACC President.