Dr. Freis has demonstrated the life-saving effectiveness of the use of drugs in the treatment of moderate hypertension, and the dramatic reduction of deaths from stroke and congestive heart failure, which can be realized when blood pressure is kept within normal limits. Hypertension—or high blood pressure—is a leading cause of stroke. Stroke, in turn, kills over 200,000 Americans a year, and is the third-leading cause of death in our country. Hypertension affects almost 23 million Americans, and is a major public health problem. Dr. Freis has been working on hypertension for over 25 years. His recent contribution has been the definitive study and demonstration of the fact that even moderate hypertension is dangerous, and should and can be treated successfully.
In 1964, Dr. Freis, with his colleagues in the Veterans Administration, set up the V.A. Cooperative Study Group on Antihypertensive Agents, for moderate hypertension. The results of this 5-year, 17-hospital study, established two major points:
That drug treatment for moderate hypertension reduced the death rate by more than 50%.
That drug treatment is 67% effective in preventing major complications which arises from cases moderately high blood pressure. These complications include, among others, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney failure.
Dr. Freis's study offers a momentous opportunity to clinical medicine. It is an exemplary demonstration of the potential of preventive medicine for saving and prolonging the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. The results of this work justify his belief that with continued and intensive efforts, we can control all of the major cardiovascular diseases—the number-one killer of our people.
For Dr. Freis's dedicated and persistent leadership toward this goal, this 1971 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award is given.