Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: heart disease

  • Clinical signs in images of King Henry VII

    Stephen MartinDurham, United Kingdom Westminster Abbey has a superb effigy that was made for the funeral of King Henry VII. (Fig 1) Henry, born in 1457 and deceased in 1509, was famous for defeating Richard III in the Wars of the Roses. The effigy has such breathtaking detail that it was probably made from a…

  • Patients without borders: Cardiac surgery, activism, and advocacy

    Annabelle SlingerlandLeiden, Netherlands In the 1970s, a “patients without borders” organization made it possible for people with severe heart disease to be flown to other countries for treatment that was unavailable in their home country. It was a decade after Christiaan Barnard had pioneered heart transplantation in South Africa, and although most patients did not…

  • When Papa Doc treated yaws

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Our Doc who is in the National Palace for life, hallowed be Your name by present and future generations. Your Will be done in Port-au-Prince and in the countryside…” — Translation of part of the “Catechism of the Revolution” that was recited daily by Haitian schoolchildren François Duvalier, M.D. (1907–1971) was the…

  • Dr. Joycelyn Elders: An unwelcome prophet

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden “No prophet is welcome in his hometown.”— The Gospel of Saint Luke, 4:24. New American Standard Bible Joycelyn Elders, MD (b. 1933) was Surgeon General of the United States of America from 1993 to 1994. She was the second woman and the first Black person to have that position. Her life story…

  • Did Ernest Hemingway have the Celtic curse?

    Philip R. LiebsonChicago, Illinois, United States Considering Ernest Hemingway’s mishaps before he died in 1961 by a self-inflicted shotgun wound, it is surprising that he lived so long. He survived two plane crashes several days apart that left him with a concussion, burns, cracked ribs and vertebrae, and ruptures of the liver, spleen, and kidneys.…

  • The Emberá of Panama

    L. J. Sandlow George Dunea Chicago, Illinois, United States   The Emberá are an indigenous people who live near the Panama-Columbia border. There are about 33,000 living in Darién, Panama, and 50,000 in Colombia. Until 1960 most lived in extended family settlements along the rivers. Since the 60s many have moved together into small villages,…

  • Rheumatic fever: Evolution of causal concepts and management

    Amogh BJTrivandrum, Kerala, India Nanditha VenkatesanRaipur, Chhattisgarh, India For centuries rheumatic fever (RF) and its sequelae scourged the lives of millions of people. Despite a substantial decline in deaths from the disease, rheumatic heart disease remains a problem, especially in areas of poverty. Over the past few centuries, a growing understanding of its causation and…

  • Blood is NOT the essence of life?

    Mair ZamirLondon, Ontario, Canada We think of blood somewhat reverently as the essence of life. Yet we miss the point. The essence of life is not blood, it is blood flow. When the heart stops beating the body dies, not because of lack of blood but because of lack of blood flow. In most cases…

  • “Rich man, poor man”: A history of lead poisoning

    Mariel TishmaChicago, Illinois, United States The history of lead poisoning is the history of human industry. For unmarked time, lead has been around causing abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and irritability, as well as conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, reduced fertility, and gout.1 Many say that the first description of the symptoms of lead poisoning…

  • The iron crab

    Sean VarnerBaltimore, Maryland, United States You only live twice:Once when you are bornAnd once when you look death in the face.— Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice In 1955 the thriller writer Ian Fleming traveled to Istanbul for an Interpol conference, which at first he found “spectacularly dull.”1 This was to change dramatically on the…