Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic. ~Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin, 1973.
For most of history, the human heart has been regarded as a forbidden organ too delicate to tamper with. It might have remained so, were it not for World War II. Military doctors, facing injury and suffering on a massive scale, pioneered advances in antibiotics, anesthesia and blood transfusions - advances that would usher in the age of modern surgery. Infact, in the beginning of 19th century, very few people died of heart disease.
AdvertisementIn the olden days, most of the work was done manually and walking was the major means of transportation. Urbanization in a way has been held responsible for the ever-increasing problems associated with the human heart. The age of technology has made life easier and made people more prone to heart disease.
Automation has revolutionized all forms of life by making it a little strenuous. Modern conveniences have made physical activity unnecessary. Along with the change in lifestyle came a change in diet. The combination of a sedentary lifestyle and a rich diet led to an increase in clogged blood vessels, heart attacks, and strokes. Heart disease then became commonplace. The rate of heart disease increased so sharply between the 1940 and 1967 that the World Health Organization called it the world's most serious epidemic.
Medical science immediately went to work studying the disease and searching out its causes and cures. Since William Harvey described the blood circulation, considerable progress has been made in the field of cardiology. The combined modality approach has been a valuable one in satisfying the demands of the disease. Of these, pharmacology deserves a special mention, which has focused on non-invasive supportive treatment modalities for heart disease.
One of the significant finding with this regard has been the introduction of Statin drugs, which reduces the inflammation and widens the blood vessels of the heart by increasing the levels of nitric oxide. Recent research points out that patients who get a statin drug in the critical first hours after a heart attack are much more likely to leave the hospital alive than those who don't get the cholesterol-lowering medication. Though statin therapy was shown to have prognostic value, considerable debate remained regarding the timing of the medication.
It has been found that the people who had been taking statins before going to the hospital and were given the drugs within 24 hours after admission had a 54 percent lower risk of dying in the hospital. Patients who had not been taking a statin but were started on the therapy within 24 hours of hospital admission were 58 percent less likely to die in the hospital than those not taking the drugs.
Evidence regarding the efficacy of the drug is yet to be documented. Considering the fact that the aim of any treatment is enhanced long-term survival if not cure, it would be wise enough to carry out further research in the same direction to have substantial and authoritative evidence. After all, who knows what the future may hold?
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