Heart

A History
Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (406 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 cardiologist and best-selling author Sandeep Jauhar tells in The Heart, it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that changed the way we live.

Deftly alternating between 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, braiding those tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of the patients he's treated over the years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, boldly arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent. Affecting and engaging, The Heart takes the full measure of the only organ that can move itself.

©2018 Sandeep Jauhar (P)2018 Dreamscape Media, LLC

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Insight

Dr. Jauhar has written an engaging book about the history of the heart and cardiology, focusing largely on the advances in the last 150 years but including references throughout history. I'm likely the target audience for this book: someone with little knowledge of medicine (I'm a musician) but curious about how life works.

The book is filled with many interesting medical personalities and their often crazy quests for answers to the mysteries of the heart. Dr. Jauhar begins most chapters with a personal anecdote and then relates it to a point of historical importance. The writing is clear and understandable to the layman for the most part, with a notable exception for the chapter discussing electrocardiology, which threatened to derail my progress. I pushed on, however, and the rest of the book returned to clarity.

I bought the book because I heard an interview on NPR with Dr. Jauhar. He discussed his grandfather's death from a heart attack and how it has haunted him throughout his life. With a history of cardiac arrest in my own family, I felt a draw to the subject material. I found many answers that I didn't know I was looking for.

Mr. Lawlor does a fine job in his performance, though I find he has a tendency to overpronounce everything, like he's trying to make a monologue clear to the back of a theater instead of simply reading to someone at close range. It felt a little harsh at times.

If you're interested in learning more about the history of cardiac medicine, I would recommend this as a great place to start.

70 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

Every Jaguar book is fantastic. This one enchants. I've been a Nurse for 38 years. 20 in teaching hospitals in ICU. I remember the evolution of central lines and Swann-Ganz under fluoroscopy, then not. Glass syringe and glass IV fluid bottles. Metal bedpans. Only doctors were allowed to draw blood gases. Bottle system chest tube drainage systems and set up. No gloves with suctioning. Body cooling an acceptable way to preserve vital organs. Etc. Etc. BUT, vena cava has ALWAYS been pronounced. "Vee-nah Cave-vah". Why does the Audible producers not teach and monitor the narrators????? Other than that--- I learned a lot from this book. I had no idea that heart lung machines such a recent invention. That so many children died of now fixable anomalies. Wish he had thrown in a little aside about invention of Ventilator to replace iron lung. But that's just me. EXCELLENT BOOK. BRAVO!!!!!

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Now I want to listen again!

This book is so easy to understand. I appreciate the simple, complexity! Now I want to listen again!

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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"It looked like a reentrant spiral wave...

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 of the heart's death...my head was spinning."
---Sandeep Jauhar

Jauhar is blatantly honest and he starts out with his own medical file and is transparent as glass. This book is personal and Sandeep connects with his audience---as only a specialist can. The journey starts off with a family member that was suffering from a heart condition and the description of the heart as an “untouchable” organ is truly poetic in this read.

The geography of the heart is sublime. Highly placed and, in the center, giving us a clear visual of its glory. Heart disease---still remains the leading cause of death and it’s important that we care for this beating miracle. Over 100 years of heart history is discussed. His time with cardiology giants (eccentric ones) like Shapiro and his description is comical “he had a canine appearance” or looked like a “bearded art carnie.”

Any physician should make a point of reading this book and it’s not necessarily geared for non-medical healthcare workers. Nice read and challenging. Cardiology is fast paced and different compared to the diagnosticians of neurology. The heart is the center and greatness emanates from here, starting with this small spark and traveling throughout to harmonize the senses. Heart health comes from the many social connections, lifestyle and the exchanges we have with others. Buy and breathe deeply.

46 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Think of it as a Pamphlet

Let's face it. Our golden years won't be our finest. Most of us will die of cancer, diabetes, or complication with our heart. Dr. Jauhar does an excellent job at explaining the heart in basic language that we all understand. All Cardiologists should have a copy of this book in their waiting room. "Heart" is one of those book that you want to read once, and read it again, and pass it along to a friend. Instead of thinking of it as a medical book, it's more like 288 page pamphlet (or 8 hours 43 minutes) that you want to share.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

a good easy to understand history

although a complex medical story, the author makes it personal, which allows listener to follow along.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

False Promises, Disappointedly Addressed

Sandeep Jauhar's "Heart: A History" is put forth as a comprehensive representation of the development of cardiovascular physician knowledge and health care procedures (especially in relation to cardiac arrest), but while there are mentions of important benchmark discoveries and daring practitioners, there were just too many memoir tangents for this to adequately complete its mission.

The narrative describing how Werner Forssmann was the first to apply cardiac catheterization to the human condition--by inserting a catheter into his own arm (!) and then taking X-ray images as proof--was extremely interesting! I wish there had been more of a focus on those types of stories, rather than about Jauhar being nervous his first time scrubbing in with his demanding superior at his residency hospital. And while the rise and fall in popularity of the controlled cross-circulation technique (during which a close family member is used as the patient's "heart-lung machine") was fascinating, there wasn't a clear reason for why certain stories were chosen for inclusion in Jauhar's book over others. For example, I do not recall ANY of the following topics being discussed: cardiopulmonary artery bypass, endoscopic vessel harvesting, human heart transplantation, coronary artery bypass grafting (aka: revascularization, which creates an alternative path to deliver blood supply to the heart and body), or even robot-assisted heart surgery.

This might sound a little insensitive, but I found Jauhar's chapter describing his experiences during 9/11 to be inappropriate for this work. Sure, from a distance he witnesses a woman get rescued from the rubble in Lower Manhattan who suffers from palpitations as a result of essentially being buried alive. But that isn't even the bulk of the chapter. Most of the chapter is an action-oriented retelling of the day's events, such as how he got put in charge of tagging and organizing dismembered body parts just because he was the closest, and most-senior, physician in the hospital at the time. But then that's it. There is no conclusion, no message or even reflective afterthought about how that day might have influenced him as a health care professional. It smelled of CDC epidemiologist Ali Khan's Hurricane Katrina chapter in his book on infectious diseases, "The Next Pandemic", and I didn't like it.

The most redeeming personal story was when Jauhar talks about how he treated a difficult patient for heart failure who was noncompliant during office visits because he trusted his homeopathic supplements more than Jauhar's medical expertise. Jauhar had to basically bring him back from the dead after the patient was admitted to the ER for a heart attack, but after that the patient became just as devoted to his pharmaceutical regimen as he had been to his supplemental one (though he continues to pop magnesium tablets).

Overall, this was fine. The narration by Patrick Lawlor was also relentlessly monotone. I learned some things, but I was really frustrated because I knew I would have learned so much more if Jauhar had ACTUALLY followed through on his storytelling promises. This might be interesting to those thinking about cardiology as a field, especially early career physicians, but you will learn more about cardiovascular surgical breakthroughs from a solid Google search than you will from reading "Heart: A History".

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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equal parts history and autobiography

I enjoyed the balanced mix of the history of modern caroling and the author's personal story

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Well told and informative.

Sandeep writes an exceptionally informative history and biology of the heart. All the while keeping it interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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Heart, literally and figuratively

I loved the author’s approach of teaching about cardiac medicine and also teaching about how emotions affect our health.

2 people found this helpful