Medicine: Dangerous Hex

A middle-aged woman walked into the pine-paneled Philadelphia office of Internist Samuel Lowenberg last week and announced firmly: "I have high blood pressure, and I just read about that new drug, and I want to try it." This sort of thing was happening in doctors' offices all over the U.S. Patients who could not get their tongues around the hexasyllabic name of hexamethonium demanded the new drug, and no argument.

Like most doctors in the same spot, Dr. Lowenberg gave his patient the argument but not the drug. Carefully he explained that high blood pressure is not in itself a disease; it...

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