Health: Heart Songs

Young doctors are losing their stethoscope skills

Just by listening through a stethoscope to the sounds inside your chest, a well-practiced doctor can tell whether a valve in your heart is leaky, you have a touch of pneumonia in your lungs or your heart isn't pumping as much blood as your body needs. In many cases, a subtle change in the pattern of bodily noises can alert your physician to problems long before symptoms appear. Unfortunately, the art of auscultation, the technical term for listening to those sounds, is slowly dying. Seasoned physicians complain that their younger colleagues are simply more comfortable ordering high-tech--and more costly--computerized scans to make...

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