Professor Lennart Hansson; 1940–2002
The Journal of Hypertension regrets to announce the loss of Prof. Lennart Hansson. His figure and work are suitably remembered in the following pages by some of his closest associates. The Journal of Hypertension has several particular reasons to join in this remembrance. Lennart had been a member of the Editorial Board for many years, and published many papers in our journal: one contribution of his was in the last month issue of the journal and we know other contributions will appear, alas postumously, next year. As author and scientist Lennart was extremely well known by all those who have worked in the field of hypertension in the past thirty years, and all our readers are familiar with his invaluable contributions to the development and progress of antihypertensive therapy. The Journal of Hypertension is the official organ of the International Society of Hypertension and of the European Society of Hypertension, and of both societies Lennart has been an efficient and prestigious President (1984-1986 of the ISH, 1995-1997 of the ESH), and for both societies he has brilliantly organised successful meetings (Göteborg, June 1979 for ISH; Göteborg, June 2000 for ESH). Last, but not least, Lennart was for many years among the closest friends of the editors of the Journal of Hypertension, who had the privilege to work with him in many studies and shared with him responsabilities in the International and European Societies of Hypertension. We personally feel that, with Lennart, a piece of our life has gone, and are sure this feeling will be shared by a large number of our fellow scientists and friends.
Lennart Hansson leaves an invaluable legacy to all those active in hypertension research. He was an outspoken supporter of fruitful, though independent, collaboration of scientists and industry. The outstanding results of his work witness the wisdom of this approach. Although he certainly appreciated the specific benefits that each different class of antihypertensive agents may have, his main message was about the role of lowering blood pressure, ‘the lower the better'. The sufferings of his last days may have been alleviated by seeing his message strongly supported in the World Health Report 2002, recently released by the World Health Organisation, which underlines that more than 50 percent of the yearly burden of 12 million deaths from heart disease and strokes can be cut by efforts to reduce major risk factors, including blood pressure lowering drugs.
To pay a tribute to Lennart Hansson, the Journal of Hypertension dedicates this issue to his memory. The only way a scientific journal can honour a scientist is to remember him as a scientist. There was something more than a scientist in Lennart, however. All his friends know that, to quote Blaise Pascal, "on s'attendait de voir un auteur et on a trouvé un homme". Our thoughts are with Lennart's lovely wife, Gerd, and his daughters.
Alberto Zanchetti, Giuseppe Mancia
Lennart Hansson; 1940–2002
For decades, Lennart Hansson was one of the foremost profiles in hypertension research. His clinical, research, teaching, editorial and written output within this field is truly phenomenal. After a short period of cancer disease, he passed away in the morning of November 08, 2002.
Lennart Hansson was born in Landskrona in 1940, and attended college in Varberg before he embarked on his medical studies in Göteborg. He started his scientific career in Göteborg at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital by investigating the clinical and therapeutic effects of beta-blockers. By that time the modern therapeutic management of hypertension was just emerging with the introduction of the beta1-selective blockers, metoprolol and atenolol. He spent time with Stevo Julius in Ann Arbor in the early 1970s doing hypertension research and returned to Europe well set to embark on his international hypertension research career.
Lennart Hansson had a true organizational talent. He quickly gathered a group of talented young researchers around him in Göteborg, and introduced them into the clinical and scientific settings of hypertension management and research. For almost two decades he stayed in Göteborg where he served at the Departments of Medicine at Sahlgrenska and Östra Hospitals until 1993 when he moved to Uppsala to continue his career in hypertension research at the Department of Geriatrics.
At that time it was still uncertain whether antihypertensive treatment was at all beneficial to the elderly, and whether the ACE inhibitors and calcium antagonists favourably influenced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients compared to the traditional treatments, i.e. diuretics and beta-blockers. During some extraordinary creative years from the mid-1990s until his death, he headed more major large outcome trials in hypertension than any other researcher. These major projects included STOP-1, STOP-2, HOT, CAPPP, NORDIL and SCOPE, and without doubt, the results achieved in these major trials formed the way in which we as physicians manage hypertensive patients today. It goes without saying for all of us who heard Lennart Hansson in scientific debates that he was a great advocate of optimising treatment regimens and risk reduction for hypertensive patients. Regarding hypertension management we often heard him say ‘‘the lower the better’', a statement which he gladly debated at international symposia and meetings. This distinct standpoint in favour of optimal management of hypertensive patients also brought him critique and enemies. He was wrongfully and brutally targeted by the Swedish media at the end of the 1990s at the height of the ‘‘calcium antagonist controversy’', where he was a strong defender of the therapeutic benefits and safety of the calcium antagonists, provided to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. He strongly maintained his position over the years in numerous scientific papers and debates and turned out to be right in the end. This recognition came when the data from the several large calcium antagonist trials which he headed (STOP-2, HOT, NORDIL) and others (SYST-EUR, SYST-CHIN, INSIGHT) were published during the years 1998-2000.
In addition to his scientific achievements, Lennart Hansson was also the founding father of the Swedish Society of Hypertension. He was also a cofounder of the European Society of Hypertension and early involved in the matters of the International Society of Hypertension. At different periods, he served as the president of all these Societies and he is certainly one of the physicians who have contributed most to the progress of hypertension research in Europe and in the world. He was elected honorary member of a large number of Hypertension Societies in Europe and elsewhere, and received recognition and awards for his scientific achievements too numerous to list.
Among Lennart Hansson's many achievements in the hypertension arena was also the starting up of Blood Pressure in 1992 and promotion of this journal to the renowned international status that it has achieved today.
For those of us who had the pleasure to work with Lennart Hansson during part of our career we always knew that we had a true and loyal supporter. But he was more than that; throughout his life he remained a great source of inspiration to his friends professionally as well as privately. Among his many social interests Lennart Hansson was a great wine and food connoisseur, and privately and with his friends he often enjoyed good food in renowned restaurants.
Lennart Hansson was happily married to Gerd Klint Hansson for the last 10 years of his life. They did not have any children, but Lennart Hansson had three daughters from a previous marriage. Gerd is a splendid and elegant woman who shared Lennart's culinary and other social interests.
With Lennart Hansson's early death, the hypertension research field has lost one of its most loyal workers. However, despite his rapidly escalating cancer disease, he remained physically vital and scientifically active at the joint European and International Society of Hypertension Meeting in Prague and at the European Society of Cardiology Meeting in Berlin just some months before he passed away.
Bengt-Göran Hansson, Thomas Hedner, Hans Lithell