61 years ago, a Heart Specialist was considered a rarity in the medical profession. At the 2nd International Congress Of Cardiologists convention in Washington D.C. in 1954, some 2,000 Heart Specialists attended – this constituted the majority number of Heart Specialists practicing at the time. In 1954, Heart Disease was only recently coming to the forefront of medical concerns, advances since the beginning of the 20th century were considerable, but were slowly coming about. The Heart Association had only been in existence since 1922, and the first meeting of the Association were held in 1924 – in fact, the Heart Association was celebrating its 30 anniversary during this conference.
But Heart disease wasn’t the only health concern in America at the time – it’s interesting to note that it took Congress to raise awareness of Heart Disease, as well as Cancer – passing the Cancer Act in 1937, and in 1948 Congress passed the National Heart Act, establishing Institutes for the study and control of those diseases. So in 1954 the understanding and control of Heart Disease was considered still in its infancy.
In 1954 treatment for High Blood Pressure was still a ways off – effective medication hadn’t been developed. Treating Rheumatic Heart Disease was slowly developing, including the discovery that much of the problem with Heart Disease had to do with way of life. Those countries with a low standard of living were discovered to have more Tuberculosis and Rheumatic Heart Disease than those countries with higher standards of living. However, those countries with higher standards of living had more cases of High Blood Pressure and coronary Heart Disease – so there was very little, if any middle ground.
Surgical procedures were still evolving from where they were even ten years earlier. But there was still more not known about than known about in 1954.
This discussion, part of the weekly series Listen To Washington, featured three prominent Cardiologists; Dr. Paul White, President of the 2nd Congress of Cardiologists. Dr. Pierre Duchosal, Secretary General of the International Society of Cardiology, and Dr. E. Coles Anderson of The American Heart Association.
Here is that discussion, as it originally aired on September 14, 1954 by NBC Radio.