What is it about?

While staying in the White House over Christmas 1941, Churchill developed chest pain on trying to open a window in his bedroom. Sir Charles Wilson, his personal physician, diagnosed a ‘heart attack’ (myocardial infarction). Wilson, for political and personal reasons, decided not to inform his patient of the diagnosis or obtain assistance from US medical colleagues. On Churchill’s return to London, Wilson sought a second opinion from Dr John Parkinson who did not support the diagnosis of coronary thrombosis (myocardial infarction) and reassured Churchill accordingly.

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Why is it important?

The opinion of Dr Parkinson has been published for the first time.


Part of a series on Winston Churchill's illnesses. Other papers include: Vale JA, Scadding JW. In Carthage ruins: the illness of Sir Winston Churchill at Carthage, December 1943. J R Coll Physicians Edinb 2017; 47: 288–295. Vale JA, Scadding JW. Sir Winston Churchill: treatment for pneumonia in 1943 and 1944. J R Coll Physicians Edinb 2017; 47: 388–394.

Professor Allister Vale
National Poisons Information Serice, City Hospital, Birmingham, UK

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This page is a summary of: Did Winston Churchill suffer a myocardial infarction in the White House at Christmas 1941?, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, November 2017, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0141076817745506.
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