How Dr. Alzheimer Discovered a Disease in an Asylum

Carl didn't know what was happening to his wife.  The German railway clerk from Morfelder Landstasse and his wife Auguste had been happily married for twenty-eight years. The marriage produced one daughter, Thekla, and their marriage had always being harmonious; that is, until one Spring when Auguste suddenly exhibited signs of jealousy. Auguste accused Carl... Continue Reading →

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How Did You Die?

A Glance at the Sometimes Gruesome Roots of CPR "How did you die?" In this 1950 educational film by The Beck Heart Foundation, a burly host was asking this simple question to a panel of eleven men and women. This was before CPR became a household term , before "Resuscitation Annie" was invented, and before Automatic External... Continue Reading →

Alzheimer’s Disease and a World in Denial

Ronald Reagan’s last letter to the American people, penned with his own hand in November, 1994, went directly to the point: “My Fellow Americans, I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.” In this deeply poignant moment, the former President explained that... Continue Reading →

Doctors and Engineers: Historic Partnerships

In the field of cardiac surgery, the 1950s has been considered the golden decade as pioneer after pioneer introduced innovation after innovation to treat serious heart conditions. Walter Lillehei in Minnesotta, Wilfred Gordon Bigelow in Toronto, William Chardack in Buffalo, and Ake Senning in Stockholm were some of the trailblazers of that era. The four... Continue Reading →

Starve to Live: Diabetes Treatment in 1916

A hundred years ago there were no medications for diabetes. It was a terminal illness where the only hope for prolonging life was to severely limit the food intake of diabetic patients.  Below is an  excerpt from the The Starvation Treatment of Diabetes by Lewis Webb Hill and Rena Eckman,  published in 1916. It is from the Project... Continue Reading →

Insulin: 7 Things You Didn’t Know

1. It wasn't called insulin During their early dog experiments on pancreatic extracts in August 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best named the yet unknown substance "isletin". The name was a reference to the Islets of Langerhans - cells in the pancreas that were suspected to produce a substance that regulated blood sugar levels. Later... Continue Reading →

First Blood: Origins of Blood Transfusion

Crowdsourcing Blood Donors in the 19th Century The transfusion of human blood started out as a very personal affair. Blood donors, usually the patient’s relatives or sometimes even their doctors, relinquished blood at the bedside. The blood was then transfused directly from one person to another using a simple syringe or special contraptions. Early 19th... Continue Reading →

Hair Salons and the First Pacemaker

In 2012  I was completing a continuing medical education course and came across the story of the first implantable pacemaker. It happened in 1958 at the Karolinska hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. This was at the tail end of a decade that is considered the golden age of cardiothoracic surgery when pioneer after pioneer introduced new... Continue Reading →

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