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January 1990

SI Units:-What Do Internists Think?

Author Affiliations

La Crosse, Wis

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(1):221. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390130177031

To the Editor. —In the August issue of the Archives, 1 I tried to read Madlon-Kay's article on "Improvement in Family Physician Recognition and Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia." I was stopped cold by the use of cholesterol levels in SI units. Only after I looked up the equivalents and set a constant in my calculator to multiply her SI units by 38.7 could I comprehend what she was saying.

Reality is that conventional units in regard to cholesterol have passed into our pop culture and people only want to know "whether their number is below 200." If I replied to a patient, "Don't worry, your number is below 5.17 mmol/L!" they will correctly feel I am suggesting they are a dumb jerk and will go elsewhere next time. Sorry, SI units, you lost the cholesterol war; it is all over.

On a deeper reality level, Hershey et al2 in the