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5 Medical Treatment Breakthroughs From The 1980s


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3/9/2014
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Ever wonder how long a medical device or treatment has been around? For instance, when did they start using MRI’s to diagnose illness? What about laser cataract surgery? What about statins to lower your cholesterol?

Note: These treatments were not available to help your grandparents. Here are 5 medical inventions that arrived during the 1980’s that had a profound effect on the medical practice.

The 1980’s live on in memory on account of the rock and roll legends such as Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Bob Marley, and U2, but these medical advances are “rock stars” in the field of medicine and science.

  1. 1980    Vaccine for Hepatitis “B”

  2. 1980    MRI scanner

  3. 1985    Surgical Robot

  4. 1987    Statins

  5. 1988    Laser Cataract Surgery

One example. Consider statins, which came on line in 1987. Here in Framingham, Massachusetts, where my law office is located, there has been an ongoing study of possible preventable predisposing factors for cardiovascular disease in a population based cohort since 1948. One of the largest and longest studies of its kind, for 65 years the "Framingham Heart Study" has produced scientific findings about heart health that are now considered common knowledge.  When the study began, the life style factors leading to poor heart health was an unknown. Now we know that certain lifestyle "risk factors" such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol will lead to damage to the cardiovascular system. With the knowledge from the Framingham study providing a framework, the introduction in 1987 of statins to lower cholesterol levels was a breakthrough, allowing physicians and patients to work together to lower cholesterol levels, and avoid and prevent heart attacks.  

Think about it. If you were born earlier, and developed a condition before 1979, none of the above useful devices or medications would have been available to you.

Medicine improves over time due to ongoing basic science research by scientists, trial and error clinical trials by doctors where research findings are applied to possible treatments, and through investments of government funds and private capital in both basic science research, long term population studies, and clinical trials. 

Know a friend who has a treatment with any of these medicines or devices? Share this article with her on Facebook so she can get a idea how long the treatment has been available.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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