"All bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance."
Justine Cadet,
News Editor
The Classical Roman poet Virgil reminds us that periods of misfortune are a timeless phenomenon, typified by the tumultuous span of history during his short life from his birth in 70 B.C. after the rebellious slave war of Spartacus through the Triumvirates and the pacification of Spain, until his death in 19 B.C.

Hopefully, contemporary society has calmed somewhat over the past 2,000 years, but this very real economic downturn, which has received excessive coverage by the media, will at some point begin to alleviate, and many hospitals and companies will endure beyond its pressures. However, the 2008 fourth quarter results for U.S. hospitals reveals that fewer patients are seeking inpatient, surgical and emergency hospital care and more patients are unable to pay for the care they do receive, adversely affecting the bottom line for many facilities.

Equally disconcerting, a study released last week in the Lancet, revealed that physicians are not applying the best practices for treating heart patients. Specifically, the researchers said that "saving people's lives from acute MI is not sufficient, and an urgent investment in prevention is needed to address the lifestyle causes of heart disease." This study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) conference, taking place next week in Orlando, Fla.

However, several glimmers of clinical hope presented themselves. First, an FDA panel recommended the approval of Sanofi's experimental drug, Multaq, to treat atrial fibrillation. If the FDA takes their advice, this will provide physicians will the only new a-fib treatment a condition that seen its number of cases grow in the past 25 years. Also, another study published in the Lancet found that bioabsorbable polymer drug-eluting stents are safe and effective in patients with single coronary artery lesions after two years, with no cardiac deaths, retreatment of diseased lesions or stent thromboses reported.

These positive signs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease can allow us to hede Virgil's advise: "Do not yield to misfortunes, but advance more boldly to meet them, as your fortune permits you."

On these topics, or any others, feel free to contact me.