Wringing Out the Water

In many disorders of the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, one of the most troublesome symptoms is the ancient complaint "the dropsy"—retention of salt and water so that the patient becomes bloated with brine. If the victim already has heart trouble, the edema will make it worse. In the mildest cases, cutting out salt may be adequate treatment. For more severe cases, a variety of chemicals is available. But some patients become resistant to any one medicine, so they have to switch prescriptions, and doctors eventually run out of alternatives.

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