24 November 2017
INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF CARDIOLOGY
It is not a simple task to write about the history of cardiology. Authors may have different opinions; some events deemed historical by some are classified as anecdotal by others. The source of information may also influence facts reported.
After having read on the early days of cardiac surgery, I found out that there were many anecdotal reports and claims about the first ever cardiac surgery performed.
Do not touch the heart
Many years ago, access to the heart was felt outrageous by the surgical community. Indeed, the following statement could be read in old manuscripts: “nature has its own limits”.
It is important to know that in the 1940’s, the cardiologist’s bag consisted only of a stethoscope, an otoscope (small device with a light to examine the ears), some nitroglycerin and morphine. Dr. René Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1817. Celebrating its 200th birthday in 2017.
One of the first version of stethoscope
I feel privileged to have participated and assisted, through clinical research, to a number of technological and pharmaceutical developments that contributed to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of patients suffering from heart disease..
Careful! He is a “cardiac” person
Those who are older will remember the visits to an uncle or an aunt who had heart disease. We were barely allowed to breath in the home. We couldn’t make noise, we were barely allowed to move and whisper…
Now what is important is to stay active
Today, on the contrary, we encourage people to be active and to return to normal physical activities as soon as possible after a cardiac event.
Over time, we realized that people who did not follow the recommendations of avoiding physical activity had a better outcome following a heart attack.
After numerous clinical trials, rehabilitation programs targeting people who suffered a heart attack were developed. Those programs enhance quality of life; improve physical condition, greater self-confidence as well as life expectancy.
A few decades ago, cholesterol was not a hot topic. Today, the whole scientific community agrees on the importance of treating high cholesterol and its impacts on cardiovascular health and survival.
Major developments in the treatment of heart failure
Clinical studies contributed to the improvement of life expectancy and quality of life of patients with from heart failure. A great number of drugs have revolutionized its treatment.
The non-pharmaceutical therapies are also very important in the treatment of heart failure. In certain cases, insertion of implantable defibrillators can significantly reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death.
New technologies in coronary angioplasty
The technological and pharmaceutical advances in the field of coronary angioplasty contributed to a significant reduction in the number of open-heart surgeries. Limitations of coronary angioplasty are constantly pushed back.
Progress through trial and error
Nothing was achieved without a few bad experiences. Although many mistakes were made along the way, perseverance ultimately paid off. It is generally the most audacious who initiate changes and push back the limits. Nevertheless, there still is a lot to learn in cardiology. Cardiovascular disease is still the second cause of mortality after cancer.
Patient contribution is constantly solicited in order to pursue the advancements in medicine throughout studies and clinical research.
Treating but mostly preventing
Medicine no longer has the sole purpose of treating patients for their illness. One of its main purposes is also to prevent the illness by tackling it at its origin: the adoption of a healthier lifestyle.
The best treatment remains prevention!
Let’s now go back in time and relive history … the history of cardiology!