Knowledge is power. Increasingly, patients are demanding and receiving access to levers in the medical machine that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. The informed consent process, which I support, can overwhelm ordinary patients and families with conflicting and bewildering options. Television and the airwaves routinely advertise prescription drugs directly to the public. Consider the strategy of direct-to-consumer drug marketing when millions of dollars are spent advertising a drug that ...

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"So, that's it? Huh. Well, there's not much to say.  I didn't think I wanted it ..." "It" was a heart lung transplant.  He, my patient, was 30 years old. We had just learned that he was 100% sensitized with antibodies to any donor.  He would not be offered a transplant as he was certain to reject the precious gift of these organs.  As he would have said, his body had ...

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Carrie Fisher’s sad, premature death is an occasion to reflect upon the poor job the news media does in reporting medical news. The initial report from TMZ had the headline “Carrie Fisher Massive Heart Attack on Plane.” If one equates “heart attack” to the more precise medical term “myocardial infarction,” as is usually done, then this is certainly diagnostic overreach on the part of TMZ. From their report, ...

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A couple of weeks ago I started taking medicine to lower my blood pressure and another to reduce my cholesterol. This was a controversial move, given my deep distrust of the practice of medicine, when it is practiced on me, and especially regarding pharmaceuticals. I know that, as a woman of 55 with a very active and healthy lifestyle, no chronic diseases and, most importantly, as a nonsmoker, I am at ...

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At 5:07 p.m. on July 27 of last year, my pager's beep pierced the bustle of the hospital hallway: "CARDIAC ARREST. 6GS room 356 bed 2. Need cards STAT." It was only seven minutes into my first overnight call as a cardiology ("cards") fellow, and I felt like I'd received a code-dose shot of epinephrine. In a most un-doctorly manner, I sprinted up the four flights of stairs to the ward. Panting, ...

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Madame Laurent came to my office one day last year with bloodshot eyes and a two-day headache. She’s well known in our clinic – kind to all the staff and always smiling even when she’s in pain. Despite a stroke a few years ago, she is mentally sharp, often able to read what I want to say before I can say it – an impressive feat considering that she only ...

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If you’re going to indulge in anticipatory medicine, it is best to anticipate those at highest risk. An elegant study by Wald et al in the NEJM shows how precision primary prevention can be done. The researchers screened toddlers, who presented routinely to their general practitioners for vaccinations, for an uncommon, but not rare, familial predisposition to high cholesterol known as heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), in which premature ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 47-year-old man is evaluated during a routine examination. He has no symptoms. Medical history is significant for a bicuspid aortic valve. He is not taking any medications. On physical examination, he is afebrile, blood pressure is 130/70 mm Hg, pulse rate is 56/min, and respiration rate is 15/min. Cardiac examination reveals ...

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Most everyone has had the experience of sitting across from a doctor, being offered a prescription and walking out the door. Most patients will accept the instructions -- maybe ask a few questions -- and move on. For some of those patients, the medications are more than a one-off; they are intended to be taken indefinitely. One of the most common of these medications is a statin. Imagine you exercise four ...

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Kevin Thomas is a cardiac electrophysiologist at Duke University Hospital.  Watch his journey.  Courtesy of Black Men In White Coats and Diverse Medicine.

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