As I read academic articles, I mark things that I don’t know or haven’t heard of as a reminder to look them up.
One thing that’s been popping up in paper after paper about heart resynchronization therapy is the New York Heart Association (NYHA) heart failure classification system. The Heart Failure Soceity of America (HFSA?) has a summary of the classes with their symptoms on this page.
I’m already learning about the ways in which patients are evaluated for treatment based on their NYHA classification, and finding out that some of the “best practices” employed by physicians are being revealed as incorrect.
Once I get through the first round of papers and patents (yes, patents), it’s time to dig into the references. I have about 5 more initial papers and maybe 8 patents to read, and then I start pulling more. Overlaps notwithstanding this can be a very deep and wide search. Imagine if I start with five papers, and each has five interesting references. Then I’m up to 30 papers. You might guess that the next generation would bring the total to around 180 papers, but by the time you get back three generations things usually start to narrow again. I’m guessing I’ll probably have to consider around 30-50 papers for the purpose of this exam.