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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2001 Dec;33(12):2063-9.

The last frontier in cardiovascular health: a landmark lecture for the XVII World Congress of the International Society for Heart Research.

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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 31 Center Drive, MSC 2486, Bethesda, MD 20892-2486, USA.


Following World War II, Vannevar Bush described science as an "endless frontier" that should be made accessible to all Americans. Since then, cardiovascular health has improved markedly, largely because substantial investments in biomedical research led to numerous therapies and prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease. Despite these advances, however, science remains an endless frontier and we continue to face an infinite array of opportunities for improving cardiovascular health. A standard definition for "frontier" is the "farthermost limit of knowledge or achievement". The limits of our knowledge are expanding at an ever accelerated pace. Unfortunately, we do not always apply what we know, and therefore fail to achieve all we could. For example, we have known for two decades that heart attack patients benefit from beta-blockers, but even today, the drugs are not always prescribed. And, health disparities continue to exist among races and communities. Therefore, the "last frontier of cardiovascular health" is the translation and application of our knowledge to improve the cardiovascular health of all people. We will not reach the farthermost limit of achievement without new knowledge. But, in our zeal to expand our knowledge of cardiovascular diseases, we must remember to ensure that what we learn is rapidly applied to improve cardiovascular health.

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