Dick Cheney’s Heart

Dr. Wes gives a good run-down on what was going on with the VP’s ticker yesterday. What jumped out at me, as I perused the news reports, was that Cheney’s atrial fibrillation was detected in the morning and fixed in the afternoon. We spend so much time bellyaching about the cost and inefficiencies in our heath care system that we forget how amazing this is.

Contrast this to the state of the art in 1941. On December 26 of that year, Winston Churchill had a heart attack. His personal physician prescribed the best therapy available at the time—bed rest. Dwight Eisenhower received the same cutting edge “treatment? for the heart attack he suffered in 1955.

During the era of Churchill and Eisenhower, a man with Cheney’s heart issues could no more have served effectively as VP than he could have flown to the Moon. These days, however, it is not at all unusual for a heart attack victim to go back to work. As David Gratzer points out in The Cure:

88 percent of heart attack survivors under 65 return to work … 44 percent of heart attack survivors felt their health was better after one year than in the month before the cardiac event. 

So, how did things improve so much? Well, here’s a hint: It wasn’t the contribution of government-run health care.

Comments 11

  1. drmatt wrote:

    Pacemakers were initially develped in sydney australia…..oops and per cutaneous intervenstions were developed in switzerland (a hybrid, not for profit syseem. hmmmmm

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 11:28 am
  2. Catron wrote:

    First, many of the quality-of-life advances for heart patients have been brought about by state-of-the-art pharmaceuticals, developed by those fiends at BIG PHARMA.

    Second, the first truly reliable pacemakers were developed by Telectronics, an Australian CORPORATION.

    Third, surely even you are not suggesting that we owe percutaneous interventions to some government bureaucracy.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 1:53 pm
  3. drmatt wrote:

    1 As far as I know BIG PHARMA has developed “quantity of life medication” I know of no quality of life medication they have developed for heart patients

    2 Who’s research did “teletronics” use to develop it? yup, the work of people in a national health system

    3 read and learn, that is where it came from, along with a lot of other life saving and life improving measures.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 2:40 pm
  4. Catron wrote:

    BIG PHARMA has developed “quantity of life medication?

    Pretty hard to have a decent quality of life when you’re dead.

    Who’s research did “teletronics? use to develop it? the work of people in a national health system

    If the hospital system is nationalized, it’s pretty hard to use data from a private system.

    that is where it came from

    I’d love to see some support for that assertion.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 3:46 pm
  5. drmatt wrote:

    what is the point of quantity of life if you can’t afford to eat because of the cost of your medications?

    I actually dont believe that you want to see any data that supports anything good could have come from a nationalized health system but here you are

    In 1928 Dr Mark C Lidwell of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital of Sydney, supported by physicist Edgar H Booth of the University of Sydney, devised a portable apparatus which “plugged into a lighting point” and in which “One pole was applied to a skin pad soaked in strong salt solution” while the other pole “consisted of a needle insulated except at its point, and was plunged into the appropriate cardiac chamber”. “The pacemaker rate was variable from about 80 to 120 pulses per minute, and likewise the voltage variable from 1.5 to 120 volts” The apparatus was used to revive a stillborn infant at Crown Street Women’s Hospital, Sydney whose heart continued “to beat on its own accord”, “at the end of 10 minutes” of stimulation.[2][3]

    All work from this point on had to spring from this initial work.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 4:05 pm
  6. Rich wrote:

    Digoxin turns out to be a quality of life drug. Not realy developed by big pharma, though.

    Big pharma did develop several inotropes which were quality of life drugs, unfortunately, most of the patients felt great until they died. These seem to be making a small comeback, however.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 4:16 pm
  7. Catron wrote:

    Come on, drmatt, I asked you to prove your assertion that we owe percutaneous interventions to some government bureaucracy (in Switzerland). Instead, you’re giving me irrelevant info (from the other side of the planet) relating to another point.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 4:49 pm
  8. drmatt wrote:

    Sorry, I answered the wrong question, per cutaneous intervention was developed by a radiologist by the name of Dr. Andreas Gruentzig, german trained, but developed the techninque in 1977 in switzerland. not sure what proof you want, I wasnt there and I dont know if there are pictures or videos.

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 5:17 pm
  9. Catron wrote:

    Was Dr. Gruentzig a kind of one-man bureaucracy?

    Posted 27 Nov 2007 at 6:23 pm
  10. Marc Brown wrote:

    Gruentzig is famous for pioneering angioplasty. He did the first on an awake human in 1977 at the university hosiptal in Zurich, where he worked.

    Oh, and Crick and Watson discovered DNA at Cambridge University.

    Posted 28 Nov 2007 at 4:03 am
  11. drmatt wrote:

    where other pioneers one man corporations?

    Posted 28 Nov 2007 at 6:24 am

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