The story behind five classic cardiac drugs
Five common drugs to treat heart ailments have been in use for hundreds, and, in some cases, thousands of years. Harold Smulyan, MD, an emeritus professor of medicine at Upstate who specializes in cardiology, has written a paper that lays out the history of aspirin, atropine, digitalis, nitroglycerine and quinidine. Two come from the bark of trees. One was originally used as an explosive, another as a cosmetic. Unlike today's drugs, which undergo rigorous trials before becoming available to the public, these remedies were generally discovered by accident and tested by trial and error.