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Issued by Aawaz Communications on behalf of Royal Mail

News & Views

Royal mail celebrates beta blocker pioneer

For hundreds of years the UK has been at the forefront of medical research and technology, now Royal Mail celebrates the work of six scientists and their life-changing discoveries.

The Medical Breakthroughs special stamps, issued on 16 September, focus on achievements since the Victorian era, a period which has seen huge scientific and technological change.

The stamps feature six areas of medical specialism including cardiovascular medicine, drug therapy, transplant surgery, ophthalmology, medical imaging and parasitology.

From Sir Ronald Ross’s 1897 evidence that mosquitoes carry malaria, which features on the 88p stamp, to Sir Godfrey Hounsfield’s 1971 invention of the computed tomography scanner – which appears on the 97p stamp, Medical Breakthroughs marks the huge contribution UK scientists have made to the health of people worldwide. Two of these achievements are particularly relevant to Arrhythmia Watch.

1st Class stamp – commemorating Heart-regulating beta-blockers synthesised by Sir James Black, 1962

Beta blockers are widely used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Propranolol was the first clinically useful beta adrenergic receptor antagonist. Introduced by Sir James W. Black, (who died in March 2010) it revolutionised the medical management of angina pectoris and is considered to be one of the most important contributions to clinical medicine and pharmacology of the 20th century.

97p stamp commemorating – CT scanner invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, 1971

rm2While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield came up with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings at all angles around the object. Hounsfield built a prototype head scanner and tested it first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain from a butcher shop, and later on himself.

In September 1971, CT scanning was introduced into medical practice with a successful scan on a cerebral cyst patient at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London

Philip Parker, Head of Stamp Strategy for Royal Mail, said: “Since William Harvey first described the circulation of the blood in 1628, British physicians and scientists can rightly take credit for the discovery and application of a tremendous number of medical breakthroughs from beta-blockers to hip replacement surgery.

“This striking set of stamps highlights six excellent examples of how science – and scientists – have risen to the challenges of mass health care, and in doing so transformed the lives of people around the globe.”

Published on: August 18, 2010

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