Dr. Arthur C. Guyton, a cardiovascular physiologist who was an expert on hypertension and author of a popular medical textbook and who inspired all 10 of his children to become doctors, has died. He was 83.
Guyton died April 3 in an automobile crash near his home in Jackson, Miss. His wife of 59 years, Ruth, died Thursday of injuries she suffered in the crash.
Born in Oxford, Miss., the son of a doctor father and missionary teacher mother, Guyton set out to become a heart surgeon. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Mississippi and a medical degree from Harvard, where he later sent his eight sons and two daughters. He served in the Navy during World War II and returned to Massachusetts for his surgical residency.
Then, in 1946, Guyton was stricken with polio that resulted in permanent paralysis of his right leg, left upper arm and shoulder. His dream of becoming a surgeon collapsed, and yet the paralysis may have proved more of an opportunity than a handicap.
The doctor diverted his career to research and teaching, becoming dean of the University of Mississippi Medical Center department of physiology and biophysics.
Ever inventive, he designed the prototype of the motorized wheelchair and several hoists and devices to assist paralyzed patients. As his children came along, he enlisted their help in his projects, designing the house they lived in and the nearby swimming pool and tennis courts and supervising them in the construction. He also led his growing family in making commercial medical instruments and pleasure boats.
As a researcher, Guyton concentrated on the causes of high blood pressure. In the 1950s, he changed earlier thinking that the amount of blood pumped is controlled by the heart, showing instead that body tissues' need for oxygen determines the output. In 1966, he used computer modeling to demonstrate that the kidneys are responsible for long-term control of blood pressure.
Whenever Guyton saw a need, he seemed to find a way to fill it. His landmark textbook came about because his students were having trouble with the only textbooks available. He started copying and distributing his lecture notes -- then decided to write the book, from his research and teaching notes, at home in the evening.
"It still has that tone to it -- a teacher talking to his students," William R. Schmitt, editor in chief of medical textbooks at Harcourt Health Sciences, said in 2000 when Guyton's "Textbook of Medical Physiology" was printed in its 10th edition.
The book, which was first published in 1956, is available in 15 languages. Schmitt said it is the world's best-selling physiology text and one of the best-selling medical textbooks ever written.
It is remarkable, as well, as one of the few medical texts written by a single individual. The first eight editions were solely Guyton's work. The last two editions have been updated by Dr. John E. Hall, who succeeded Guyton at Ole Miss when Guyton retired in 1989.
Guyton and his high-achieving family have been featured in Reader's Digest and several newspapers and on such television programs as ABC's "20/20."
The Guytons are survived by their two daughters, Catherine Greenberger of Sewickley, Pa., and Jean Gispen of Oxford, Miss.; eight sons, David of Baltimore, Robert of Atlanta, John of Durham, N.C., Steven of Seattle, Douglas of Reno, James of Memphis, Thomas of Memphis and Gregory of Baltimore; 32 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Guyton also is survived by a sister, Ruth Smith of Frederick, Md.; and a brother, William of Austin, Texas.