Aug 6, 1983
Query cardiac pain is a common problem, and immense efforts are made to solve it. No test can prove that a patient has not had a cardiac infarct, though in the recent past eminent authorities wrongly stated that a normal ECG supplied this proof. This history is by far the most important means of interpreting recurrent pain. Coronary arteriography is only useful in diagnosis when the pain is certainly due to myocardial ischaemia but it is uncertain whether this is caused by coronary artery disease or some other cardiac lesion. In practice, much pain is not diagnosed. This need be no cause for concern, and patients who in fact have had a small cardiac infarct gain rather than lose if wrongly reassured of its non-existence. The history of cardiology is a depressing catalogue of error. Bogus cardiac diseases have been diagnosed on an enormous scale, mainly because attention has been concentrated on the cardiac manifestations, while the patient was ignored. Much "excluding" is fatuous. Because treatment was derived from theory, treatment for patients who had had cardiac infarcts was disastrous. The great error at present is to overvalue technology.