In just the past few decades, medicine has dramatically changed and evolved. The more advanced modern medicine becomes, the better care patients receive. People are living longer, and diagnoses that were once a death sentence can now be easily cured. Science and technology have evolved medicine to incredible heights over the last few decades.
It wasn’t until 1950 that molecular biology found its foothold due to DNA findings—something that would forever change cancer research. The next great feat in cancer research came in 1964, when researchers found the link between smoking and cancer. The discovery and many findings after this led to President Richard M. Nixon signing the National Cancer Act in 1971. Within the next two years, computed tomography (CT) revolutionized radiology, and Dr. Janet Rowley found chromosome abnormalities in those with cancer. By the 1990s, the death rates of cancer began to fall.
The leading cause of death in the United States today is the same as it was over fifty years ago: heart disease. Fortunately, the death rate of heart disease has dropped significantly thanks to the advancements in medicine. Instead of dying in their 50s or 60s, people are living longer even with heart disease. Patients are now aware of how high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and cholesterol can affect their heart health. New technologies are also detecting heart attacks earlier on, and implantable cardiac defibrillators are significantly reducing sudden cardiac death in heart attack survivors.
The first vaccine was developed hundreds of years ago to create an immunity against smallpox. Since then, vaccines have revolutionized healthcare. By 1955 the first polio vaccine was licensed, which was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. In the 1960s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the first national measles eradication campaign which then decreased measles cases by more than 90% before the development vaccines. Today there are now vaccines to fight against human papillomavirus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer and other vaccines to build immunity against life-threatening diseases.
Within the past fifty years, medical technology saw its first major advance in the 1960s when the first artificial heart and the balloon embolectomy catheter were developed. This allowed the first minimally invasive surgical procedures to be conducted. From there, medical technologies took off. Healthcare began to transform with new devices such as x-rays, CT scans, robotic surgeries, and other technological innovations. In recent years, technology has made patient care even more accessible. Patients can reach out to their doctor via video chat for any questions or concerns and can fill out prescriptions online through e-pharmacies.