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[Perspectives] Hypertension

For most of its history medicine has not been a matter of numbers. Just as an early modern physician felt entirely justified in diagnosing without a fine-level grasp of anatomy, so he could confidently prognosticate and prescribe without a great deal of quantifying. Although the classical tradition took a close interest in the movement of blood, seeing it as a kind of nutritious tide originating in the liver, practitioners were more concerned with pulse rate and quality—hard, soft, languid—as markers of general health.

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