From the standpoint of morbidity and mortality, coronary atherosclerosis is the paramount medical problem in the United States. This condition is the most commonly fatal type of heart disease and is the greatest single cause of death from disease in this country.1 The Editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association recently pointed out that more than one in five physicians' deaths is caused by this condition, more than twice as many as from cancer.* Not only has the incidence of coronary artery disease increased with the ever-expanding proportion of elderly persons in the population but it has also become the major cause of disability and death among persons in their most economically productive years of life.4
Until the pathogenesis of coronary atherosclerosis is better understood, no effective prevention or treatment is possible. Despite intensive investigation, its etiology remains obscure. It occurred to us that basic information
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