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Reconstruction In Heart Disease

( Originally Published 1921 )

THE word reconstruction has taken on a new meaning during recent months. It expresses in a better way than any other word the proper attitude toward the alleviation of the troubles of people who have heart disease. It expresses what has been so long known as the cure resort treatment. It means not only the relief of the disease itself, but the reorganization of the habitual physiology of the sufferer to cure the disease.

Reconstruction must be mental, moral, and physical. The mental reconstruction consists in a thorough instruction of the person as to the nature of his disease and the avenue through which improvement is to be sought. Moral reconstruction consists in the development of a sound philosophy that is ready at any moment to accept the inevitable, even tho it be sudden death, and at the same time looks forward hopefully to good things in the future. physical reconstruction consists in the development of compensation in the heart muscles ; in clearing up the chemistry of the body so that energy production may be carried on with the least possible fuel residuent, and that the anaphylactic tendencies of the person may be known in order that inflammatory reaction may be avoided.

In using the word reconstruction, I am taking one which expresses much better the proper attitude toward the person with heart trouble than any other word previously in common use. Closely approaching the meaning of this word was the "cure resort treatment of heart disease." In many parts of the world heart disease was looked upon as rather a hopeless thing. When diagnosis was made, the person was advised to be as inactive as possible, and little expectation, was held out that he could serve a useful purpose in the world. The first really hopeful point of view was found by an English physician, who advocated exercise as the great remedy in heart disease, and the most hopeful place was where these methods were carried out the cure resort. This cure resort treatment was best developed in Bad-Nauheim, in Germany.

The trouble with the profession and the public many years ago was that there was a fundamental belief that a specific remedy existed for every disease, and the whole effort of the profession and the public was directed toward finding this remedy. There was a sort of superstition that nature had provided medicinal substances which respectively would cure every disease, and if we could only in each case find that substance, our task would be complete.

The reconstruction idea in heart disease is the exact antithesis of this. In reconstruction we build up every part of the sufferer. We build up his physical strength and his resistance, we improve his mentality and fortify the whole man, and we make him so generally resistant to disease as by and by to find that a specific cure is not of essential importance.



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