Dr. Whelton has played a leadership role in many large NIH funded observational studies and has been national chair of many high blood pressure prevention and treatment clinical trials, including TOHP, Phases I and II, TONE, ALLHAT and SPRINT. Significantly, Whelton led the team behind the blockbuster announcement that redefined high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years. The new guidelines lower the threshold for high blood pressure diagnosis, resulting in almost half of U.S. adults being considered hypertensive.
Born in Cork, Ireland and a graduate of medical school at the University College Cork – National University of Ireland, Dr. Whelton also earned a master of science degree in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an advanced research degree in medicine from the University College Cork – National University of Ireland. He received post-graduate training in internal medicine and nephrology at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and in epidemiology at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology and Medical Care Unit at Northwick Park Hospital (London).
Dr. Whelton spent 26 years in Baltimore, where he was professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, professor of medicine at the School of Medicine, director of the Outpatient General Clinical Research Center, and founding director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. In 1997 he moved to New Orleans as dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and in 1999 was appointed Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. He also served as dean of the School of Medicine at Tulane, president and chair of the Louisiana Gene Therapy Research Consortium, chair of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, chair of the Louisiana Biomedical Research and Development Park Commission, and vice-chair of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. In 2007 he moved to Chicago as president and CEO of the Loyola University Health System and Medical Center and concurrently served as senior vice president for Health Sciences at Loyola University Chicago where he was professor of preventive medicine and epidemiology at the Stritch School of Medicine. In 2011 he returned to New Orleans where he serves as the Show Chwan Health System Endowed Chair in Global Public Health at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Global Cardiovascular Health
Hypertension Clinical Trials
Prevention of Cardiovascular and Renal Disease
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil
Hypertension Excellence Award for Hypertension Research
American Heart Association Council
National Population Research Prize
American Heart Association
World Hypertension League Achievement in Prevention
Treatment and Control of Hypertension
Society of Scholars and dedicated Whelton Conference Room/Portrait
Johns Hopkins University
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Faculty of Medicine
University College Cork, National University of Ireland
COSEHC Excellence in Leadership Award
The Consortium for Southeastern Hypertension Control (COSEHC)
National University of Ireland, University College Cork: M.D.
University of London: M.Sc.
National University of Ireland, University College Cork: M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O.
Media Appearances (3)
Study Questions Role of BP Meds in Patients With Hypertension but No Other CVD Risk Factors
Asked to comment on the findings for TCTMD, Paul Whelton, MD (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA), who chaired the ACC/AHA hypertension guideline writing committee, highlighted the difficulties in interpreting observation data.
“We can look at the same data here and come to different conclusions, none of which will have a high degree of certainty,” he said...
Doctors botch blood pressure readings more often than you think
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have guidelines with steps that health professionals are supposed to follow to get accurate measurements. But they are notoriously bad at sticking to them.
“We wouldn’t fly on a plane where the pilot said, ‘I’m going to ignore the guidelines I have for safe travel,” said Dr. Paul Whelton, a professor at Tulane University and chair of the writing committee for updated US guidelines on blood pressure. “But that’s exactly the situation we have today with respect to blood pressure measurement.”
Why getting an accurate blood pressure reading is important
"When you're in that blood pressure range, on average you already have a doubling of heart attack risk and stroke risk," explained Tulane Epidemiologist, Internist, and Nephrologist Dr. Paul Whelton...
Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, Casey DE Jr, Collins KJ, Dennison Himmelfarb C, DePalma SM, Gidding S, Jamerson KA, Jones DW, MacLaughlin EJ, Muntner P, Ovbiagele B, Smith SC Jr, Spencer CC, Stafford RS, Taler SJ, Thomas RJ, Williams KA Sr, Williamson JD, Wright JT
Executive Summary: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines.
Muntner P, Whelton PK, Woodward M, Carey RM.
To determine the concordance in the prevalence of hypertension and pharmacological antihypertensive treatment recommendations for U.S. adults with diabetes using definitions from the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) blood pressure (BP) guideline and the 2017 American Diabetes Association (ADA) diabetes and hypertension position statement.
Johnson KC, Whelton PK, Cushman WC, Cutler JA, Evans GW, Snyder JK, Ambrosius WT, Beddhu S, Cheung AK, Fine LJ, Lewis CE, Rahman M, Reboussin DM, Rocco MV, Oparil S, Wright JT Jr
Recent publications have stated that the blood pressure (BP) measurement technique used in SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial) was unattended. However, the SPRINT protocol does not address the issue of attendance. A survey was conducted immediately after SPRINT closeout visits were completed to inquire whether BP measurements were usually attended or unattended by staff. There were 4082 participants at 38 sites that measured BP after leaving the participant alone the entire time (always alone), 2247 at 25 sites that had personnel in the room the entire time (never alone), 1746 at 19 sites that left the participant alone only during the rest period (alone for rest), and 570 at 6 sites that left the participant alone only during the BP readings (alone for BP measurement).
Whelton PK. et al
The PREVER-prevention trial was a randomized, parallel, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial, with 18 months of follow-up, conducted at 21 academic medical centers in Brazil. Of 1772 individuals evaluated for eligibility, 730 volunteers with prehypertension who were aged 30-70 years, and who did not reach optimal blood pressure after 3 months of lifestyle intervention, were randomized to a fixed association of chlorthalidone 12.5 mg and amiloride 2.5 mg or placebo once a day. The main outcomes were the percentage of participants who achieved an optimal level of BP.
Whelton PK, Williams B.
Hypertension-A Public Health Challenge of Global Proportions.
Whelton PK., et al.
For the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Working Group on Research Needs to Improve Hypertension Treatment and Control in African Americans.