One of My Favorite Paragraphs from Being Mortal

Being Mortal Atul GawandeAtul Gawande has received appropriate praise for his new book. Read it if you haven’t. Meanwhile, here is one of my favorite paragraphs from the book, to whet your appetites:

Even as our bones and teeth soften, the rest of our body hardens. Blood vessels, joints, the muscle and valves of the heart, and even the lungs pick up substantial deposits of calcium and turn stiff. Under a microscope, the vessels and soft tissues display the same form of calcium that you find in bone. When you reach inside an elderly patient during surgery, the aorta and other major vessels can feel crunchy under your fingers. Research has found that loss of bone density may be an even better predictor of death from atherosclerotic disease than cholesterol levels. As we age, it’s as if the calcium seeps out of our skeletons and into our tissues.

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