Efforts to detect cardiac malfunction employ a variety of methods ranging from the physician's "check up" to ambitious programs involving many investigators and elaborate laboratory determinations. An ideal procedure would be described as "reliable, safe, simple, and inexpensive." Invasive needle and catheter techniques to measure pressures and visualize structures are generally reliable, but they involve variable risks and discomfort and tend to be neither simple nor inexpensive; while indispensible when indicated, they are not designed for "routine" use. On the other hand, the three most utilized procedures in office and hospital—the bedside history and physical examination and the standard electrocardiogram—though safe, simple, relatively inexpensive, and quite reliable in the hands of trained observers, are very time-consuming.
Elsewhere in this issue (p 239) Spodick and colleagues report a method which bridges the gap between the physiology laboratory and the bedside evaluation of patients. The externally obtained carotid pulse curve is used