Surgery: The Texas Tornado

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Heart disease is the top killer in the U.S. today, and strokes rank third, just behind cancer. But heart disease and strokes both develop from diseases of the arteries, and together they account for 75% of all U.S. deaths. The deadly statistics, contends Houston Surgeon Michael E. DeBakey, make cardiovascular (heart-artery) disease the most pressing problem of modern medicine.

Dr. DeBakey speaks with singular authority. Since 1948, the dexterous scalpel and deft needle of Baylor University's professor of surgery have operated on more than 10,000 human hearts and arteries. From the...