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Heart: A History

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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,894 ratings  ·  301 reviews
The heart lies at the centre of every facet of our existence. It’s so bound up with our deepest feelings that emotional trauma causes it to change shape.
Practising cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar beautifully weaves his own experiences with the defining discoveries of the past to tell the story of our most vital organ. He looks at some of the pioneers who risked their careers a
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Hardcover, 269 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Deanna Ventura It's a GREAT book to read! This book is a smooth read packed with interesting case studies, personal experiences, and historical references. Jauhar de…moreIt's a GREAT book to read! This book is a smooth read packed with interesting case studies, personal experiences, and historical references. Jauhar delivers well. I would read it again!(less)

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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  1,894 ratings  ·  301 reviews


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India M. Clamp
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: surgery
Contrary to what people think, physicians are good communicators, writers and many are astute journalists. Writing not only creates a record but a way in which to see, understand and reflect on all that we do. This includes the field of research and Sandeep Jauhar who has become quite a prominent voice in medicine regales us with “Heart: A History.” He weaves the tale expertly---as if he were creating a biography on this wonderful organ.

"It looked like a reentrant spiral wave, the signature o
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Jennifer Blankfein
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Follow my blog, Book Nation by Jen for all reviews and recommendations.
I devoured this book, thoroughly enjoyed the anecdotes and learned so much. According to author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, “This book is about what the heart is, how it has been handled by medicine, and how we can most wisely live with – as well as by – our hearts in the future.”

Dr. Jauhar, a medical doctor, found himself out of breath, went to go get checked out and learned, along with other minor issues, his main artery feeding
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book is not for the faint of heart (har har) but was a great read for Science September from personal history with heart disease and training as a heart specialist to the history of how our understanding of the heart has developed, and with it treatments for various ailments.

I was interested to read that meditation often does as much as medication, and emerging research on the connection between anxiety/stress and the heart. I recently had AED training when I was CPR certified but had no i
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Rebecca
(3.5) There could hardly be an author better qualified to deliver this thorough history of the heart and the treatment of its problems. Sandeep Jauhar is the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Medical Center. His family history – both grandfathers died of sudden cardiac events in India, one after being bitten by a snake – prompted an obsession with the heart, and he and his brother both became cardiologists. As the book opens, Jauhar was shocked to learn he had up to a 50% bloc ...more
Janet Newport
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
As do many of us in later life, health challenges abound. Mine are cardiac in nature and I hoped for a better understanding of them through this book.

I did get a much better understanding of my personal issues as well as a fairly complete history of the treatment of heart related issues. I appreciated Dr. Jauhar's telling of his own personal experiences of heart disease and family history. He was almost philosophical explaining the effects of emotions and exterior trauma on the heart. Overall an
...more
Patricia
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book had a lot of heart, but lacked purpose.
Helen
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have worked my entire nursing career in a cardiac hospital so I was very interested in Sandeep Jahar’s book titled Heart: A History. Dr. Jahar is a cardiologist and a very good writer. The book gives an interesting history of how cardiac care has advanced throughout the years and it is written in layman’s terms so everyone can enjoy it. I especially liked his stories about his patients. I read his first book, Intern, many years ago so I was anxious to read his latest book and I was not disappo ...more
Hayley Stenger
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book because it was the pick for the Now Read This, New York Times/PBS book club. It was more technical than was I hoping for. I learned a lot, but honestly could have used some more explanation than was offered and some more stories and detail. I appreciate the work doctors have done, I understand and could see how valuable their work was/is, but animal testing is difficult for me to read about.
Ensiform
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, science
The author, a cardiologist, explores the history of the heart, from its symbolism to the newest artificial hearts. He begins with his own story, chronicling an odd shortness of breath that results in a diagnosis of arterial blockage. He discusses some of his family history, from the probable heart attack that killed his paternal grandfather after being bitten by a cobra, to his mother's death of a heart attack in her sleep after a battle with Parkinson's. The heart, he concludes, is the life-bri ...more
Carin
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's odd that I am squeamish and yet like medical books. I nearly failed high school biology (and to be honest, I should have failed it. I only passed by cheating. Sorry, Mom.) and yet decades later, I wonder about those organs I tried not to look at too closely in my little frog.

I read Dr. Jauhar's first medical memoir, Interned, years ago. (Unfortunately, I missed his second memoir. This is his third.) Like in Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, in this one, Dr. Jauhar is not just the medical expert,
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Ruthanne Johnston
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five educated stars for this fascinating book. It’s educational, also a personal memoir of the life of a brilliantly-trained young cardiac surgeon, along with case studies of his most interesting patients and bits and pieces of his philosophy about such arguable subjects of”humans actually dying of grief and a broken heart.”
As for the historical part, he goes back into 11th century medicine and explains how the body’s circulation was a much-errored mystery and how it was finally solved. All this
...more
Connie
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written book that is a quick read and interesting. That being said, I felt like I was in a lecture hall in college.
Siltsu
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a remarkable book! It’s the history of treating the heart and heart related issues, told through the stories of the trail blazing doctors, medical personnel and engineers who wanted to conquer the mysteries of the life giving organ, sometimes even using their own hearts and bodies as experiments. The book is so well written that even the most complicated issues are easy to understand and I feel that I now have a completely new perspective to heart health. I now intend to start taking a lot ...more
Tullyn
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a surprisingly addictive read, with the author masterfully weaving the scientific with the anecdotal.
Leah Porter
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A truly beautiful history of the complexities of the heart, both from a medical standpoint and from an emotional one. I loved every minute of this beautiful book!
Wendy
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite exploration of the heart itself, the history of treatments developed to heal it, and anecdotes that add (not detract) from the narrative. I'm definitely not a doctor, but this book struck a perfect chord of science and story.
Laura
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Heart, by cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar, has been longlisted for this year’s Wellcome Prize. It’s a stroll through the history of heart surgery interwoven with Jauhar’s own career as a surgeon and his own family’s experience of heart disease – a history that’s catching up with him, as he discovers plaques in his own coronary arteries during a CT scan. Jauhar writes better about cardiology than does Stephen Westaby in Fragile Lives, but his prose is still workmanlike rather than memorable; it never ...more
Paul
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2019
If there is one thing that you need more than your brain, then it is your heart. Over the course of a normal life, the heart will beat around 115,00 times a day which equates to 42 million times a year. Over your lifetime it will pump a staggering 158 million litres of blood. For years was seen as the centre of our soul too, but that attitude changed with the rise of scientific understanding of the way it worked. But what goes around comes around and modern research has shown how the heart can r ...more
Seth
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was expecting this book to be dry, and too detailed about the anatomy and physiology of the heart, but I was pleasantly surprised! The author, who is a cardiologist, alternates between the history of the heart and stories about his patients. The history of the heart is filled with pretty interesting, and some just plain insane, stories. *Some* fascinating things I learned from this book: the purpose of the heart wasn't known until relatively recently, and the procedure that predated the heart- ...more
Melise
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This was a great read. The author, a cardiologist, alternates between stories from his own life revolving around him personally, and the history of different medical breakthroughs having to with treating the heart. He is an engaging writer and the book was a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

I read an advanced reading copy from Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley. Thanks.
Kristen
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I wish that I could rate this book a bit more highly - there is some interesting information here. However the book suffers from a lack of identity, part medical history, part case study, part autobiography. This, combined with jumps in topic and time, made it difficult to get invested.
Trevor Angst
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book focuses on the human heart and the last ~120 years of technical achievements used to discover, understand and treat cardiovascular disease.
SaraKat
If you've ever wanted to know more about the heart, how it goes wrong, and what is done to fix it-- this is your book. The author is a cardiologist and tells about how his family history of heart disease led him to his profession. The historical changes in medicine are book-ended with present-day accounts of his life in medical school and working as a doctor. I found the science well explained and the historical accounts were very interesting.

I did have a hard time reading some of the accounts o
...more
Muneeb Hameed
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A pivotal book for me. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Though many of the risk factors are largely predictable and preventable, I think it's a lack of understanding that makes it easy to ignore the ways we put ourselves at risk. Poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive stress, shallow social connections. We all know these things aren't good for us but until now, I never understood how it all ultimately leads to one thing - heart disease. A lifestyle with the afor ...more
Cheryl Turoczy Hart
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure about this book when I requested it from the library. It was the NPR Book Club selection for January but I didn't get it until February--an appropriate month to read a book about the heart.

Part of my unsure and dubious thinking about reading the book was based on the fact that I had rheumatic fever at the age of 3 which resulted in an enlarged heart, among other things, so I have spent nearly my whole life knowing that my heart had been damaged because of that disease and that it l
...more
Laura
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is exactly the kind of book I love. Well-written elucidations of the evolution of scientific and medical ideas with entertaining details about the people involved:
-On Mason Sones, who came up with coronary angiography, "...Sones was a bit of a lunatic. Even in an era when doctors lived and breathed medicine, Sones topped the charts. He routinely worked until midnight, holding his cigarettes with sterile forceps while he smoked in the cath lab."-
-On Charlie Dotter, who performed the first t
...more
Nancy
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Do you want to live a long, healthy, and prosperous life? Don’t smoke. Exercise. Eat right. But also take good care of your interpersonal relationships and the way you deal with life’s inevitable upsets and traumas. Your mind-set, your coping strategies, how you navigate challenging circumstances, your capacity to transcend distress, your capacity to love – these things, I believe, are also a matter of life and death.

I loved reading about the history of cardiac surgery/medical practices, but
...more
Donna Capern
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I both enjoyed and learned from this history of heart science. Dr. Jauhar's explanations of heart physiology, conditions and treatment are clear and easy to understand, if read carefully, but heart medicine becomes real and personal with his anecdotes and patient stories. I certainly got the impression that early heart pioneers were a rebel lot, and that while care and repair of heart conditions have come a long way, our sedentary but stressed Western lifestyle and diet are still challenging thi ...more
Katrina Kennedy
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It chronicles the history of cardiac treatment with compelling stories and thoughtful technical detail. I understand my own congenital heart defect more having read this. I also realize how lucky I was to be born just ten years after many breakthroughs in cardiac care that made my first surgery in 1971 possible. I’m in awe of the original doctors who tested procedures on themselves because so many societal and legal limitations made it impossible to test any other way. If you ...more
Bryn
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really didn't like this book. The author had very little that was nice to say about his colleagues or many of the patient cameos that he used to introduce some chapters; there were also a number of times that he focused on his own discomfort, instead of the larger poignancy of the moment (when they were spreading his mother's ashes and he was feeling seasick, for example), so the overall authorial voice was almost grating to me. Furthermore, the book lacked any overall coherent organization th ...more
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Sandeep Jauhar has written three books, all published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. His first book, "Intern: A Doctor's Initiation," was a national bestseller and was optioned by NBC for a dramatic television series.

His second book, "Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician," released in August 2014, was a New York Times bestseller and was named a New York Post Best Book of 2014. It
...more

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There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
51 likes · 18 comments
“In many ways, the heart does resemble a house. It is divided into multiple chambers, separated by doors. The walls have a characteristic texture. The house is old, designed over many millennia. Hidden from view are the wires and pipes that keep it functioning. And though the house has no intrinsic meaning, it carries meaning because of the meanings we attribute to it.” 2 likes
“Do you want to live a long, healthy, and prosperous life? Don’t smoke. Exercise. Eat right. But also take good care of your interpersonal relationships and the way you deal with life’s inevitable upsets and traumas. Your mind-set, your coping strategies, how you navigate challenging circumstances, your capacity to transcend distress, your capacity to love – these things, I believe, are also a matter of life and death.” 2 likes
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