Cover image for Heart : a history
Title:
Heart : a history
ISBN:
9780374168650
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.
Physical Description:
269 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents:
Prologue : CT scan -- Introduction : the engine of life -- Part I. Metaphor. A small heart -- Prime mover -- Part II. Machine. Clutch -- Dynamo -- Pump -- Nut -- Stress fractures -- Pipes -- Wires -- Generator -- Replacement parts -- Part III. Mystery. Vulnerable heart -- A mother's heart -- Compensatory pause.
Summary:
"For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was the spark of life as well as somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. As the cardiologist and bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar shows in [this book], it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and developed the science to change the way we live. Deftly weaving together his own experiences with the defining discoveries of the past, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal this most vital organ."--Jacket.
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Summary

Summary

The bestselling author of Intern and Doctored tells the story of the thing that makes us tick

For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. As the cardiologist and bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar shows in Heart: A History , it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live.

Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African American doctor who performed the world's first open heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient's circulatory system to a healthy donor's, paving the wayfor the heart-lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker--by accident. Jauhar deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family's history of heart ailments and the patients he's treated over many years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent. Affecting, engaging, and beautifully written, Heart: A History takes the full measure of the only organ that can move itself.


Author Notes

Sandeep Jauhar , MD, PhD, is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is the author of Doctored and Intern and writes regularly for The New York Times . He lives with his wife and their son and daughter on Long Island.


Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

A cardiologist deftly intersperses his own medical journey, as it relates to his family and career, with a history of human understanding of the heart and advances in the field of cardiology. Beginning chapters, which focus on history, are intriguing, but the investigation really picks up as Jauhar delves into the monumental discoveries of the late 19th and 20th centuries. With accessible language, the author writes about Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, an African American surgeon, who performed the first open heart surgery in 1893. Jauhar describes in fascinating detail the invention of the heart lung machine, the development of the cardiac catheterization procedure, the advent of coronary angioplasties, the invention of the pacemaker, the first successful donor heart transplant, and the first mechanical heart, and reminds us of the significant impact that our emotional lives have on the health of our hearts. In fact, Jauhar argues that increasing progress in the field of cardiology will require a shift to a new paradigm-away from high-tech intervention and toward a comprehension of psychosocial factors. To treat our hearts, we also have to address issues such as poverty and stress. VERDICT An engaging mix of science and human interest, this is eminently readable nonfiction sure to appeal to -science-oriented high school students.--Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Cardiologist Jauhar (Intern) moves beautifully between "dual tracks" of "learning about the heart... but also what was in my heart," with passages of memoir counterbalancing a lay-reader-friendly history of the development of cardiac medical technology. Covering enough physiology to make scientific details easily understood, Jahaur emphasizes how brave, desperate, and sometimes foolhardy experiments led to important developments, such as the heart-lung machine, which allows doctors to perform heart surgeries that take longer than a few minutes without causing brain damage. Alongside these medical success stories, Jauhar shares personal encounters with heart disease, through the deaths of family members and through his own diagnosis with coronary blockages. Jauhar achieves a balanced tone throughout, sharing profound admiration for what can be accomplished by treating the heart as a machine, while also urging the reader, and the medical community, not to undervalue of the significance of the "emotional heart." To this end, he points to the fraught emotional dynamics of providing devices like defibrillators that can prolong life but also provoke traumatic stress and constant fear in the patients who use them. Throughout, Jauhar is thoughtful, self-reflective, and profoundly respectful of doctors and patients alike; readers will respond by opening their own hearts a little bit, to both grief and wonder. 22 b&w illus. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

In his two previous works, Intern (2008) and Doctored (2014), Long Island heart specialist Jauhar drew on his own medical training to expose some of the darker aspects of contemporary American medicine. Shifting gears here with a more targeted insider's perception of the workings of the human heart, Jauhar nevertheless keeps the personal story line going by recounting his sometimes-unnerving experiences as a cardiologist while also providing fascinating profiles of the many groundbreaking scientists who unraveled the heart's mysteries over the centuries. A string of colorfully graphic anecdotes involving skewered and bleeding patients demonstrates how much daring physicians learned about the heart by confronting trauma with ingenuity, from German surgeon Ludwig Rehn, who verified the feasibility of cardiac repair in 1897, to William Greatbatch, an inventor who created the perfect lithium battery to power pacemakers and save millions of lives. Jauhar pairs medical history with revelations of his own family's tragic encounters with heart disease, delivering a deftly written and heartfelt (literally) contemplation of our most precious and often-misunderstood internal organ.--Carl Hays Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

IN RICHARD SELZER?S fictional story "Whither Thou Goest," a widow searches for the man who received her late husband's heart. The liver, kidney and corneas were in other people, but she needed to be with the heart. When she and the stranger ultimately connect, it's as if she's recovered lost love. I, on the other hand, always considered the heart a pump, much the way a doctor explained it to Sandeep Jauhar during his cardiology fellowship. "In the end," the doctor said, "cardiology is mostly a problem of plumbing." Jauhar quickly learned otherwise. His gripping new book, " Heart: A History," had me nearly as enthralled with this pulsating body part as he seems to be. The tone - a physician excited about his specialty - takes a sharp turn from his first two memoirs. The first, "Intern," was filled with uncertainty; the second, "Doctored," with disillusionment. Jauhar hooks the reader of "Heart" in the first few pages by describing his own health scare - an exam showed obstruction in the main artery feeding his heart. We don't hear more about his condition again until the final chapter, when a further assessment reveals premature ventricular contractions, "a mostly benign condition in which my heart flutters or does a sort of flip-flop when an extra, unexpected beat comes in." Sandwiched between his own heart tests is his journey to understand this organ that has mystified and frightened him ever since he was a child and heard about his grandfather's sudden death from a heart attack. Most chapters launch with a riveting scene: a patient in the thick of getting a heart transplant, say, or having open-heart surgery. You feel as if you're watching an episode of a medical television drama. Before we find out what happens, Jauhar takes us back in time to explain the discoveries that made all of these advances possible. That's where the stories get particularly strange and captivating. We read about Werner Forssmann, who attempted one of the first cardiac catheterizations in 1929. He did it on himself. Forssmann threaded a thin tube through his arm until it pierced his right atrium. Colleagues called him a quack. Almost 30 years later, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. We go into an operating room where a young girl is having open-heart surgery, tethered to a heart-lung machine. Then we learn that the concept for this machine began with one doctor's brazen idea of connecting a patient to another person's blood supply. He was inspired by the way a fetus feeds off its mother. Six of seven cases ended with a death. Eventually, the heart-lung machine replaced the volunteers. The machine got off to a rough start too: 17 of the first 18 patients died. As one of the mid-20th-century researchers remarked, "You don't venture into the wilderness expecting to find a paved road." Fun facts are sprinkled throughout. The adult heart beats about three billion times between birth and death; the amount of blood that passes through an adult heart every week is enough to fill a swimming pool. Jauhar is at his best when writing about the heart. At times, he veers off topic. I commend him for volunteering at ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, but I would have preferred hearing more about the woman who suffered from stress-related heart ailments than the work he did identifying bodies. Jauhar visited the wellness center of Dean Ornish, the doctor who promoted a Mediterranean diet. I wanted to know Jauhar's expert opinion on how this regime compares with others. Despite these quibbles, "Heart" is chock-full of absorbing tales that infuse fresh air into a topic that is often relegated to textbooks or metaphors about pumps, plumbing or love. 'In the end, cardiology is mostly a problem of plumbing.' RANDI HUTTER EPSTEIN is the author of "Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything."


Choice Review

In Heart: A History, Jauhar, a cardiologist at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, takes the reader on a symbolic and scientific journey through the history of the human heart. In 14 thematically organized chapters, Heart examines the ancient and early modern understandings of the heart as well as the development of modern medical technologies, such as myocardial surgery, pacemakers, and transplant cardiology. The author seamlessly entwines personal vignettes with histories of mavericks in the field as well as the broader historical context of cardiology's evolution through the centuries. It is within this context that Jauhar conducts a multifaceted examination of the psychological, metaphorical, and physiological condition of the heart, and how its symbolism and "central role in technological innovation" have endured and evolved through the centuries. Heart: A History is a welcome addition to Sandeep Jauhar's existing body of work, which includes Doctored (2014) and Intern (2007). Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Holly Caldwell, Chestnut Hill College


Library Journal Review

Part personal memoir, part social history, part history of science, this work is always interesting. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks recognized that the heart was special, although they knew little about blood circulation. In the Middle Ages, it was turned into a symbol of love. And it was not until recent times that surgeons could "fix" hearts. Jauhar, a cardiologist, alternates stories of his own education and experiences with detailed descriptions of the first heart surgeries, the development of the artificial heart, and other modern medical miracles. Interspersed are biographical vignettes from the lives of researchers who succeeded, failed, and sometimes died. Patrick Lawler delivers a charming performance, reciting long strings of scientific terms with casual aplomb. VERDICT While squeamish individuals may find the detailed descriptions of medical procedures unsettling, this book should appeal to all others with an interest in biology or medicine. ["This captivating investigation deftly communicates the beauty, mystery, and scientific wonder of the human heart": LJ 6/15/18 review of the Farrar hc.]-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Technical Coll., Boone, IA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.