Until recently, perhaps few persons, even physicians of long experience in large general hospitals, have realized the magnitude of the "cardiac problem," from whatever standpoint it is approached. Heart disease has become, in this country at least, the most important of the causes of death. According to the estimate of Knight,1 some 180,000 persons in continental United States and Canada died last year of heart disease.
Tables and estimates of mortality, however, give but incomplete evidence of the prevalence of heart disease, because many deaths recorded as from pneumonia and other infections, for example, probably would not have occurred except for coexisting disease of the heart. It has been estimated that 200,000 children of school age in the United States have heart disease.
Facts such as these make it apparent that heart disease is perhaps the most pressing public health problem confronting the medical profession today. And because of