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Grace Carlson

Medical Research vs. Armaments

(29 March 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 13, 29 March 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Through the Walking Man radio contest, millions of people heard about the work of the American Heart Association, many of them, for the first time.

Very likely, the majority of these radio listeners felt, that the million dollars, which they had contributed in the contest, would enable the American Heart Association to carry on its research on a greatly expanded scale. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The fact is that an adequate research program for heart disease would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Heart disease is the Number One Killer. In 1946, over one-half million people died from diseases of the heart or blood vessels. This is a larger number than died of the next five causes of death combined. Nine million people in the United States now suffer from diseases of the heart and blood vessels but there are only 700 doctors who specialize in this disease. Only one hundred medical research specialists are investigating this disease and only two hundred hospital beds are available for their research work.

This despite the fact that significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease have come about from research. Take, for example, coronary thrombosis, which was a fatal disease twenty years ago. Today, the deaths from this disease have been materially reduced in those patients who receive prompt medical treatment. Coronary artery disease has to do with an interference of the blood supply to the heart. The most serious phase of this disorder is the occurrence of coronary thrombosis where the blood supply to a portion of the heart is suddenly cut off by plugging one of the coronary arteries.

Twenty years ago, the patient with coronary thrombosis looked forward to a life of invalidism if he survived his attack. Today, most of these people are continuing to carry on their daily activities and many of them are living out their life expectancies.

One very valuable piece of research, which has enabled doctors to give added years of life to the coronary patient has been the use of anti-coagulants. Drugs, like heparin and dicumarol, have been used to prevent the blood from clotting. They have been utilized in cases of coronary thrombosis, in which blood clots migrate from one spot in the circulatory system to another. At present, 17 institutions are cooperating with the American Heart Association in studying the value of this type of drug therapy in coronary disease. So far, one thousand patients have benefited by this treatment.

The amount of money available for research in diseases of the heart and blood vessels averages only five dollars per death from these causes. In infantile paralysis, five hundred thousand dollars is used per death. At this rate, one hundred sixty million dollars should be made available for research into America’s Number One public health problem.

But a capitalist government, which is driving at break-neck speed toward the Third World War – the Global War – the Atomic War – has no money for saving human lives through medical research. War is an expensive undertaking! The total money spent for all medical research in this country in 1944 would pay for only eight hours and twenty minutes of the last war.

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