John H. Laragh MD

Physician scientist who discovered that plasma renin and sodium interact to support normal blood pressure, and that excesses in plasma renin or sodium interact to cause hypertension.

John Laragh was a physician-scientist. He developed questions about cardiovascular, renal and endocrine diseases from his patients, he devised the means to investigate those questions in his laboratory, he imagined the meanings of his results, developed theories and then tested them at the bedside. This led to the volume-vasoconstriction hypothesis of blood pressure control that is the basis of The Laragh Method.

Over a lifetime in academic medicine Laragh made many discoveries. He developed theories about how the body regulates the volume of fluid in the circulation and maintains a reasonable pressure level to efficiently deliver nutrients to heart, brain, kidneys and other vital organs. He developed tests to carry out his investigations. He studied patients with malignant hypertension and primary aldosteronism, essential hypertension and congestive heart failure. He decided that there are two fundamental causes of hypertension, excess body sodium and excess plasma renin activity (PRA). That, in turn led to clinical plasma renin testing to detect whether sodium or PRA is in excess in each patient. This led to personalized drug selection that either removes salt from the body or blocks plasma renin activity.

John was from Yonkers NY. He graduated from Cornell Medical College. He was Chief of Nephrology at Columbia P&S, and then Chief of Cardiology and Chief of the Cardiovascular Center at Weill Cornell Medical College. He was a founder of the American Society of Hypertension and the American Journal of Hypertension. He was married to Jean Sealey. John Laragh died in 2015.