My foolish heart

The biophysicist Norman Holter was responsible for a big step in the history of heart treatment. 1949 he  presented to the world for the first time a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for long periods (24 hours or more). The Holter monitor was a true game-changer for Cardiology. Holter even added a noble humanitarian note to the story, by donating the rights to his invention to medicine.

When my cardiologist asked me during a check up, how I felt about including a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, I remembered all the nice stories about Mr. Holter and cheerfully agreed. Unfortunately, they did not help at all, when the technician adjusted the device that would inflate my left arm each 15 (!) minutes for the next 24 hours. In case this information does not sound bad enough for you, read the next paragraph.

The instructions were clear and yet a bit incomprehensible: 1. stay still after hearing the long beep (measurement starts) and wait until short beep ends to move it again; 2.fill up a paper form with a description of my activities during the day; 3. in case the monitor tiny screen shows “error”, change batteries immediately.; 4. do not leave the device in contact with water, and finally: 5. follow your regular activities, normally. Doubts? No doubts? See you tomorrow, thank you. Next!

The next 24 hours were as unpleasant, as you can imagine with the nice extra touch of very high temperatures, and required a lot of faith in science and a even bigger amount of willing suspension of disbelief (paper form? batteries? act normally?). The following morning, after getting rid of the monitor, I walked myself home and wondered what the result of the readings would show, but I will be very impressed if it is all normal. To anyone, at all.

I let my thoughts fly to that day in 1949 and came to the conclusion that Mr. Holter himself would be disappointed, if he could see how little your invention has advanced compared to others. Think of drones, smartphones and self-driven cars and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, what do we know, me and my foolish heart?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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