This article is based on a keynote presentation at the 12th Nordic Congress in General Practice in Trondheim, Norway in September 2002. The aim was to demonstrate the strengths and limitations of evidence-based medicine (EBM) in a primary healthcare setting. The presentation comprised two separate lectures discussing an authentic case history from everyday practice that had been presented to the authors by the congress organisers. Initially, Peter Nilsson overviews the correct approach to the situation as described according to EBM. Subsequently, Linn Getz questions whether we can be sure that application of EBM is necessarily in this particular patient's best interests. The title of the presentation, 'A matter of heart', has a double meaning. On the one hand it indicates an update on preventive cardiology, on the other it addresses the importance of academic courage (coeur = heart) among members of the medical community. The general practitioner is in a unique position to observe the interaction between the scientific paradigm of biomedicine and individuals, whether suffering from ill health or considering themselves healthy. It is our privilege and professional duty to reflect upon clinical experience and be open to critical debate.
Comment In: Scand J Prim Health Care. 2003 Mar;21(1):112718452