Medicine: Stop-&-Go Shocks

Few crises in affairs of the heart are more dreaded by physician, surgeon and patient alike than ventricular fibrillation —in which the heart's built-in electrical timing system fails and its lower chambers flutter futilely. Instead of beating purposefully and pumping blood to the whole body, they twitch ineffectively and pump nothing. There is no heartbeat. Doctors have tried to reverse the rapidly fatal process with a variety of electronic gadgets, but until recently no defibrillator has been able to do the job consistently. Now, some daring and resourceful doctors have become so sure...

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