He wasn’t particularly likable upon first encounter. He wasn’t apt to answer questions asked. He had a long pause and a long drawl and a tangential, winded story — and backstory — all of which he was bound and determined to tell to its detailed completion. With an irregular heart rate in the 170s and a respiratory rate in the 30s, I tried to steer him in the direction of ...

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When I was a cardiology fellow back in the 1980s, I learned about a variety of early tools for evaluating heart health that had been displaced by the modern standards of electrocardiography (ECG, or EKG for the Deutschephiles) and echocardiography. One such technique – ballistocardiography – stuck with me, and may be making a comeback. Ballistocardiography is based on the observation that the mechanical action of the heart leads to subtle ...

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I retired my first stethoscope today. I bought my Littmann Cardiology III during my first term of medical school in 1999. It came with a penlight, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, manual blood pressure cuff, tuning forks and reflex hammer, all contained within a traditional black leather physician’s bag with my initials in gold. Receiving your medical student diagnostic kit is one of the rites ...

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Brilinta, at $6.50 per pill, twice a day, reduces cardiovascular events more than generic Plavix, which costs 50 cents per pill, once a day. But only a little: 20% relative or 2% absolute risk reduction. The event risk was 10% with the more expensive drug and 12% with the one that costs 82% less. Put differently, if 100 patients were treated with Brilinta for a year, at a cost ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 62-year-old man is evaluated during a routine visit. He is asymptomatic and walks 1 mile most days of the week. Medical history is significant for aortic stenosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Medications are aspirin, metformin, lisinopril, metoprolol, and rosuvastatin. On physical examination, the patient is afebrile, ...

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Death is on our floor. It has been there for far longer than I have. On my first day in the cardiac surgery ICU, I was running late. I hurried past the dimly-lit rooms, their monitors regularly chiming their final lullabies of the night before the receptionist brightly greets the morning shift nurses and flips on all the fluorescent lights outside the twenty rooms on this floor at 7:00 a.m. sharp. There ...

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Drug costs in the U.S. are higher than in in any other industrialized country in the world. Our cost for an insulin glargine (long-acting insulin) pen is $76.80 and in Canada, so very few miles away, it costs $19.60. The latter price is reasonable. The former price can make the difference between being able to afford a life-saving drug and dying. It is illegal, however, for a U.S. citizen to ...

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A survey of 1,000 volunteer adults found 71% regularly watched medical television dramas, but only 12% said the shows “were a reliable source of health information.” The participants were given some brief vignettes describing scenarios where CPR was administered: a 54-year-old who suffered a heart attack at home and received CPR by paramedics, an 80-year-old with a postoperative cardiac arrest in the hospital after surgery, and a post-traumatic arrest in an ...

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I was a four-year-old kid when I was about to begin my first day of school. I was born and raised 20 kilometers away from the big city in a small rural area with minimal essential amenities — for example, schools, roads, and hospitals. Like all other kids, it was a momentous occasion for me to start my first day of school, and I remember how exciting it was. As I ...

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In medical school, the lessons and stories have a unifying theme that connects the threads of humanity. In medicine, I could find these stories, the feelings of loss and fear and hope and love. In the face of illness, suffering, and death, we often see the unvarnished sides of the human condition — the more raw sides of our nature hidden behind the decorum of everyday living, behind the curations ...

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