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August 24, 1994

By the Numbers: How Much Angina Will Make a Gambler Quit?

JAMA. 1994;272(8):593. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520080035038

To the Editor.  —I was touched by Dr Greengold's1 essay "By the Numbers" in The Journal. She understands both our love of quantification and our desire to practice humane medicine, two sometimes conflicting goals. Five years ago my father, an addicted gambler, suffered a myocardial infarction while at a race track. Despite the crushing chest pain, he remained at the track until the day's events were finished. He was then hospitalized and I flew to visit with him. I asked him how bad the chest pain had been. "I don't know," he replied, "but I can tell you that I couldn't get up to bet on any of the last eight races." It was clear to me that his pain was an eight on a 10-point scale.