March 24th, 2012

On the Shoulders of Giants

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending ACC.12 this week are blogging together on CardioExchange.  The Fellows include Tariq AhmadBill CornwellMegan CoylewrightJeremiah Depta, and John Ryan (moderator). Read the previous post here. Read the next one here.

As another meeting of cardiologists from around the world gets under way, it is a good time to reflect on the journey that has brought us here.

Tools and procedures we take for granted today—like echocardiography and coronary interventions—are relatively young introductions into the cardiologists’ armamentarium. Current 2D echocardiographic techniques are largely based on papers that were published in the 1970s. Andreas Gruentzig presented his landmark research on coronary angioplasty by way of a research poster at the AHA meeting in 1977!

Even the stethoscope is a relatively recent medical invention. Prior to Rene Laennec’s description of a hollow tube that could be used to listen to the heart in 1819 (De l’Auscultation Médiate), cardiac auscultation remained a rudimentary art. Dr. Willem Einthoven did the first real EKG in 1903 and won a Nobel prize for this invention.

For centuries before that, from the time of ancient Egypt through the middle-ages, the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases remained inexact and ineffectual.

As a community, cardiologists place a premium on new ideas and excel at creating forums to share and discuss research results. These qualities have led to several paradigms shifts in our understanding of heart disease and saved numerous lives.

So, dear fellows, let’s enjoy this extraordinary event, and in the words of Steve Jobs: “stay hungry, stay foolish”.

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