Letter from the Medical Director: Looking Forward Optimistically

It is with great humility and appreciation for those who have come before me, especially my friend Dr. Steve Elias, that I have accepted this role as medical editor for VEIN Magazine. Having been passionate about the importance of circulation for much of my 30-year medical career, VEIN Magazine has long been a wonderful place for me to lean back and enjoy clinically relevant articles and information in a beautifully presented, readable format. With a plethora of dizzying digital media about medical advancements, it is nice to know we can also have a tangible resource that we can sit on a couch with and hold in our hands to help us make some sense of it all.

As lifelong students of the medical arts, many of us spend time studying the science behind medicine. Whether we read the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, or other peer-reviewed publications, relaxed, “lean back” learning is often not possible. Still, we all deserve to peruse a beautifully presented yet informative magazine designed to let us relax and enjoy as we read about events in our profession.

For those of us interested in the exponentially growing medical discipline of venous care and treatment, VEIN Magazine is a respected resource. As such, we strive to be inclusive of different medical backgrounds and perspectives. We aim to reflect the spirit of inclusivity in our line-up of contributing authors and recognize that this is mirrored by our ever-evolving readership. VEIN Magazine authors join us from every corner of our specialty world, bringing information from multiple perspectives and disciplines relevant to better venous understanding.

My goal as the medical editor is to ensure that whenever anybody is interested in learning more about venous health, they will think of VEIN Magazine as a place that brings informative, engaging narratives that includes all of us in that worthy pursuit of knowledge. Simultaneously, those readers will know that their valuable time is spent perusing information meant to inform and entertain, with full knowledge that those articles have been edited and reviewed by many of their esteemed colleagues. As medical editor, I will do my best to maintain that trust and carry it forward.

With that in mind, this edition's cover story must be mentioned. If outer space is an intellectual and physical destination many of us ponder, let me take a moment to tell you my applicable personal story around it, and how it intertwines with one of the more fascinating narratives in medicine today.

Over 20 years ago, I authored a patient-oriented book on mitral valve prolapse. Dr. Andrew Gaffney, MD, a cardiologist, and professor at Vanderbilt University, wrote the preface. Dr. Gaffney had become a friend, and we shared an interest in why astronauts aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle program were having certain symptoms in the hours after arriving back on earth. In 1991, as a Navy flight surgeon, Dr. Gaffney was chosen to investigate this and other medical phenomena aboard the Space Shuttle and spent over nine days in space. Amongst other investigations, he famously had an intravenous catheter placed in himself. Based on his observations, he explained to our colleagues and to me the effects of weightlessness and zero gravity on venous pressures.

As a young cardiologist at the time, it not only reiterated to me how little I had accomplished in my life in comparison but also how much we had to learn regarding the venous system and its importance on the 360 degrees of circulation. Thus, I made it my mission to better understand the importance of venous circulation, our second heart (the calf pump), and ultimately, the rampant amount of chronic venous insufficiency that is one of the most common circulation issues in humans today and so often misunderstood.

Fast forward 20 years to our current cover story. Upon reading the beautifully summarized article written by Melvin, et al., I was struck by the amount of information we can gain as human beings by spending even a few moments in space. Not only does it remind us of the vastness of our universe, but when you eliminate an otherwise of the vastness of our universe, but when you eliminate an otherwise ubiquitous physical property like gravity, the understanding of how that property affects our incredibly designed but almost entirely earth-bound bodies changes. Much of my own personal research has centered on the differences subtle temperature changes make on the body and the disease pattern recognition that goes along with it. What might the effects of zero gravity have on that information, and what might that tell us about the etiology of those differences? The possibilities are endless.

Whether it is to better understand lymphedema, venous insufficiency, or even retinal disorders, space exploration may hold the key to answers on earth we might never have been able to imagine.

With pioneers making it easier for us to explore space, we might be able to more routinely investigate treatments and cures for existing diseases at rates unimaginable using our current technology.

Thus, it is with that spirit of innovation and creativity that I hope a new era of medical research will be ushered in. At VEIN Magazine, we will continue to tell the stories that are inspirational and aspirational, the stories that strive to inspire the wide-eyed enjoyment and optimism we all have while watching rockets travel into the heavens to explore the unknown.