Science is responsible for a lot of great change, and for many wonderful things that we today take for granted. However, while we all are grateful to science for things like electricity, the way that most of us feel its effects most strongly is surely in medicine – where each scientific breakthrough can lead to us living longer and fuller lives, and to us avoiding horrible stresses and experiences that were once commonplace. Here are the top ten medical breakthroughs, and how they’ve made life easier for us on a day to day basis.
Vitamins may not be the cure for any serious illness, but our understanding of them (started by Frederik Hopkins) has helped many of us live healthier lives and avoid serious malnutrition and deficiencies.
9 Our Understanding of the Circulatory System
The role of the heart was for a long time misunderstood (though an accurate description of the circulatory system dates back to 1242 by physicion Ibn al-Nafis). It wasn’t until 1628 that William Harvey brought the concept to modern science and lead to many of the treatments we have today.
HIV was discovered by Robert Gallo and Luc Montagnier in the 1980s when there was a huge increase in patients. Not only did this lead to treatment for a very widely spread condition which makes it certainly one of the top ten medical breakthroughs, but it also helped the general public to understand the importance of protected sex.
Imagine breaking a bone before x-rays. In the past you’d either have had to go with a rough diagnosis, or undergo surgery just to find the cause of the discomfort. Thanks to Conrad Rontgen this is no longer the case and we have another of the top 10 medical breakthroughs.
If you thought it was painful to imagine a world without x-ray, then try imagining a world where your only anaesthetic is to bite onto a piece of leather and down some vodka. Quickly you realise the importance of this particular discovery.
The discovery and understanding of insulin is credited to Frederick Banting in 1920. Before this, a diagnosis of diabetes spelled a long drawn out suffering with a dire prognosis. Today many diabetics live normal lives thanks to his discovery.
4 Germ Theory
Germ theory is one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs because it lead to so many more including penicillin and others. At the same time, it’s only thanks to our understanding of germ theory that we know to sanitize our water, sterilize surgical equipment and wash our hands after petting the dog.
Our understanding of DNA has hugely increased our understanding of the human body and biology in general. More importantly though it’s leading to potential treatments for countless conditions and will only continue to unlock more as our understanding improves.
Vaccination was apparently used in the East as early as the 15th century, but it’s more recent use in the West is what has enabled us to stop the spread of population reducing epidemics and even to permanently end the threat of many serious diseases.
In any countdown of the top ten medical breakthroughs you’re likely to find penicillin at the top, and with good reason. Before being discovered by Alexander Flemming in 1928, a simple cut could spell death if it became infected and life expectancies were much shorter. Today however we are able to administer effective treatment for countless infections and viruses before they spread.