The Medieval Origins of the Concept of Hypertension
By Mojtaba Heydari, Behnam Dalfardi, Samad E. J. Golzari, Hamzeh Habibi, and Mohammad Mehdi Zarshenas
Heart Views, Volume 15, Number 3, 2014
Abstract: Despite the well-known history of hypertension research in the modern era, like many other cardiovascular concepts, main points in the medieval concept of this disease and its early management methods remain obscure.
This article attempts to make a brief review on the medieval origin of the concept of this disease from the Hidayat of Al-Akhawayni (?-983 AD). This article has reviewed the chapter of “Fi al-Imtela” (About the Fullness) from the Hidβyat al-Muta’allimin fi al-Tibb (The Students’ Handbook of Medicine) of Al-Akhawayni.
The definition, symptoms and treatments presented for the Imtela are compared with the current knowledge on hypertension. Akhawayni believed that Imtela could result from the excessive amount of blood within the blood vessels. It can manifest with symptoms including the presence of a pulsus magnus, sleepiness, weakness, dyspnea, facial blushing, engorgement of the vessels, thick urine, vascular rupture, and hemorrhagic stroke.
He also suggested some ways to manage al-Imtela‘. These include recommendations of changes in lifestyle (staying away from anger and sexual intercourse) and dietary program for patients (avoiding the consumption of wine, meat, and pastries, reducing the volume of food in a meal, maintaining a low-energy diet and the dietary usage of spinach and vinegar). Al-Akhawayni‘s description of “Imtela,” despite of its numerous differences with current knowledge of hypertension, can be considered as medieval origin of the concept of hypertension.
Top Image: Folio from an Arabic manuscript of Dioscorides, De Materica Medica, 1229