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Publisher's Summary

At one time heart disease was a death sentence. By the middle of the 20th century, it was killing millions, and, as with the Black Death centuries before, physicians stood helpless. Visionaries, though, had begun to make strides earlier. On September 7, 1895, Ludwig Rehn successfully sutured the heart of a living man with a knife wound to the chest for the first time. In 1929 Dr. Werner Forssman inserted a cardiac catheter in his own arm and forced the X-ray technician on duty to take a photo as he successfully threaded it down the vein into his own heart...and lived. And on June 6, 1944 - D-Day - another momentous event occurred far from the Normandy beaches: Dr. Dwight Harken sutured the shrapnel-injured heart of a young soldier and saved his life, and thus the term "cardiac surgeon" was born.

In The Heart Healers, James Forrester, MD, tells the story of these rebels and the risks they took with their own lives and the lives of others to heal the most elemental of human organs: the heart. The result is a compelling chronicle of a disease and its cure, a disease that is still with us but one that is slowly being worn away by the "heart healers".

©2015 James Forrester (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"It's a book of marvels." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Great review of the landmark achievements in Cardiology.

This was a great book. The author did a great job presenting his life and the modern development of cardiology. As a nurse practitioner I found all this information very interesting and came away with a much better understanding of why we do what we do in modern medicine.

The performance was great and I wish Jonathan Yen would do more recording.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

If you could sum up The Heart Healers in three words, what would they be?

So informative!

What other book might you compare The Heart Healers to and why?

None

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Some ah hah moments

Any additional comments?

I learned so much from this book. The final chapters were packed with useful information. I plan to read it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So informative!

I never wanted to put this book down! It is a comprehensive history of cardiology which perfectly tells the story of how procedures we take for granted today came to be. It is fascinating, captivating, and so very relevant.

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one of the best in medical hitory

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Heart Healers?

every moment in the book was awe inspiring

What does Jonathan Yen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I loved the narration

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh and cry

  • Overall
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A Surgeon's Illness

Compared to Emperor of All Maladies, this book was more people-oriented. It is also more surgery-oriented because heart disease tends to be caused by mechanical defects amenable to surgical interventions. Drugs mostly play a supporting role - dissolving clots and reducing cholesterol. Cellular/molecular details of the illness are mostly neglected as they feature less prominently and more recently.

My impression from both books is that surgeons are, as you would expect, the jocks of the medical profession. Some of them are wonderful humanitarians, but many are also or primarily competitive or even grossly selfish. And as is typical of applied medicine, and especially of applied innovations in medicine, they require a strong stomach. No matter how good a doctor for a frequently terminal illness is, some of his patients will die due to his mistakes, and he or she has to live with that while remaining productive.

The surgical innovators of this book have it even worse than the normal practicing surgeon because they are learning on living subjects. Although these subjects were generally terminally ill, the innovative surgeon may be the immediate cause of many deaths before he perfects his procedure. Further, given the risks and initial outcomes involved, prior to success, he or she is likely to be a pariah to his peers.

Heart disease is a big deal - it and cancer each kill about 600,000 Americans a year. Forrester is optimistic that it will be overtaken by cancer as the leading cause of death in the near future. Maybe so, but the longer we live, the harder it is to treat or prevent such illnesses - hence success may have to be defined by modest improvements in longevity and eliminating young deaths. We are not, after all, immortal.

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Good history of cardiology care

Good history of how heart disease has been researched and managed over the years. The last chapter was an over the top ego recap of the successes of cardiology, but hopefully we can all look back and feel we have made one of the world's most outstanding contributions to human health and welbeing.

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  • HMak
  • Venice, CA USA
  • 07-08-16

The Narration seems to ruin this book

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

After listening to the Emperor of All Maladies and the superb narration of that book, this narration seemed too sharp and almost sarcastic in tone and that ruined it for me.Almost every sentence was phrased and read as if it were a question which was annoying.

Would you ever listen to anything by James Forrester MD again?

If there was a different narrator

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narration seemed too sharp and almost sarcastic in tone and that ruined it for me.Almost every sentence was phrased and read as if it were a question which was annoying.

Did The Heart Healers inspire you to do anything?

No

Any additional comments?

I wanted to like this book but couldn't get through a few chapters of the horrendous narration

  • Overall
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A masterclass

The Heart Healers
Dr. Forrester gives us a first-hand account of the evolution of modern cardiology. There could have been no better person to present such a book as his own career paralleled the tremendous advancements cardiology has seen in the past 50 years. It seems like he was in the thick of it all and was able to give us a front-row account of the developments that have gotten us to where we are now. He calls them " mavericks and rebels" for good reason . We are fortunate to have such stalwarts willing to think outside the box and go all out in pursuit of their dreams and in the process help shape modern-day cardiology. Some of their experiments would have been difficult to conduct in modern-day medicine with its tight regulations and litigation. As we approach the present day we see less of such characters. Fortunately all the groundwork has been done and what we're doing now is fine-tuning the work of our forefathers.
Dr. Forrester presents various legends of the days gone by including Walter Lillehei ,Mason Zone , Andreaz Gruenzig to mention a few not to forget the most amazing story involving the young German Werner Forssmann. The unifying factor amongst them was a desire to achieve their dreams and bring their ideas to fruition . We also get an insight into their private lives. It's clear that most of them don't exhibit characters one would want to emulate but there's no denying their legacy and their immense contribution to mankind.
I listened to the audio version of the book. It was very well narrated by Jonathan Yen. The narration flows smooth and at an appropriate pace for this book.
Dr. Forrester shows his humility by proudly recognizing the achievements and good work of his mentees who continue to refine the trade. We are fortunate that as a result of great work done by the " Mavericks and Rebels ' the advancements in cardiology has caused tremendous decline in morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease.
9-11-2016


0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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