This week: looking at a heart infection, historically, and more

Dec 31, 2015

Doctors Harold Smulyan and Donald Blair (of Upstate University Hospital) look at the history of infective endocarditis -- an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and its tissues, usually caused by a bacterial infection -- in a paper published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences.

The disease was first reported in the early 1800s, and "before the development of antibiotics, this disease was uniformly fatal," says Dr. Smulyan, a cardiologist. Dr. Blair is a specialist in infectious disease.

Their research identifies a number of famous patients who died from infective endocarditis, including Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1796; composer Gustay Mahler in 1907; German physician Alois Alzheimer, the founding father of neuropathology, in 1915; and silent-screen star Rudolph Valentino in 1926.

Also on this week’s show: how big institutions, like Upstate, are going green; and the importance of the health care proxy.