Since beginning my medical education, I had been on one side of the curtain; the side where the doctors confer and discuss before telling the patient his or her fate, going from room to room giving updates and prognoses. I interacted with patients for the purpose of getting their histories and physical examinations, collecting all the data so that I could present the case to my attending. I was engrossed ...

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I very distinctly remember March 16, 2015. I was the chief surgical resident on call for trauma at my busy urban training program. Like any other springtime trauma call I was steadily busy, running back and forth from penetrating and blunt trauma victims in the trauma bay to inpatients, OR cases, and attending rounds. The characteristically hectic flow of the day was interrupted when I got a call from my ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 58-year-old man is evaluated during a routine appointment and asks for advice on cardiac risk assessment. He does not have any current cardiac symptoms, exercises 4 days per week, and has never smoked. He has no chronic health issues and takes no medications. He has no known drug allergies. Results of ...

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Aggressive control of blood pressure has saved millions of lives and has prevented millions of people from experiencing heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure, among other things. Admittedly, controlling blood pressure is not the sexy part of medical care, but when primary care doctors like me help people get their blood pressure under control, we do just as much good as any of our colleagues who practice as cardiovascular surgeons. ...

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Monday morning. As I click through the usual beginning of the week barrage, I open an email from my ER chief. My heart drops into my stomach, where it begins to race. He's forwarded a letter of concern from a specialist from a different hospital. It's about a patient that I failed to help, and failed to diagnose, so she had to seek help elsewhere. As I read the details, I remember the case. I pick ...

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This post is purposely controversial.  I write it because I believe that mounting evidence suggests that we should encourage “out of the box” thinking about this issue.  This post is hypothesis challenging.  I may be right, or I may be wrong.  I hope we get some debate on my speculations. The latest blow to the cholesterol hypothesis: "Dashing Hopes, Study Shows a Cholesterol Drug Had No Effect on Heart ...

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Of life’s two certainties, death, and cataracts, it seems statins defer one and prompt the other, although not necessarily in the same person. If you blindly love life, you may be blinded by your love for life. In the HOPE-3 trial, ethnically diverse people without cardiovascular disease were randomized to 10 mg of rosuvastatin daily and placebo. The treatment group had fewer primary events: death from myocardial infarction (MI), non-fatal ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 49-year-old man is evaluated during a routine examination. He is asymptomatic but is concerned about his risk for cardiovascular disease. Medical history is notable for hypertension. He is a nonsmoker, and he works as an executive at a highly successful company. Family history is noncontributory. His only medication is hydrochlorothiazide. On physical ...

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Every fall, medical schools welcome nearly 20,000 college graduates. They arrive anticipating endless hours of lectures, too much coffee, and infinite facts to memorize. There is one thing they do not expect, however. I know. Forty-nine years ago, I was one of them. The first day I walked onto the wards was in spring of 1967. I was in St. Louis, doing my second year of medical school. Previously my presence ...

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I was spending time with friends and family over the holiday when I started to experience various vague symptoms without an obvious etiology. Having been treated for high blood pressure about ten years prior before successfully overcoming the issue with exercise, I immediately recognized the return of the condition. (As an aside, it should be stated that elevated blood pressure typically produces no symptoms at all.) Stopping by my local pharmacy, ...

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