Sunday, July 5, 2015

NYTimes: Medical Mysteries of the Heart

Scientists have made enormous gains in reducing deaths from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, but it is astonishing how much they still don't know. That leaves patients and their doctors uncertain about the best way to fight a disease that is still the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

The successes and remaining puzzles in treating heart disease were laid out in recent articles by The Times's Gina Kolata. From 2003 to 2013, the death rate from coronary heart disease plunged by about 38 percent, thanks to better control of cholesterol and blood pressure, a decline in smoking rates, improved medical treatments and faster care of people after a heart attack.

The most surprising gaps in knowledge involve two of the most common treatments: when to use stents — small wire cages — to prop open coronary arteries and how far to drive down blood pressure.

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