Wednesday's Child

The Angel of Death

When I was training as a Cardiology Fellow in 1978 there was a sixty-odd year woman on our service who had a massive heart attack about a week before.

In that era we did not have the availability of modern treatments such as clot busting drugs or the ability to immediately balloon open and place a stent into a coronary artery, thus limiting the amount of damage to the heart. It was very frustrating to deal with situations in which large amounts of heart tissue was being damaged. We could only stand by helplessly watching it happen, and then wait later to field the resulting serious consequences of heart failure or cardiac rhythm issues; some of which were potentially lethal.

This particular woman had a rough hospital course complicated by cardiac shock, respirator support, heart failure and life threatening arrhythmias. It took a while, but she gradually…

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