Book details

The Heart Healers

The Misfits, Mavericks, and Rebels Who Created the Greatest Medical Breakthrough of Our Lives

Author: James S. Forrester, M.D.

The Heart Healers

The Heart Healers


About This Book

The compelling story of how scientists and doctors learned to save the human heart by one of the men who made it possible
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Book Details

At one time, heart disease was a death sentence. In The Heart Healers, world renowned cardiologist Dr. James Forrester tells the story of the mavericks and rebels who defied the accumulated medical wisdom of the day to begin conquering heart disease. By the middle of the 20th century, heart disease was killing millions and, as with the Black Death centuries before, physicians stood helpless. Visionaries, though, had begun to make strides earlier. On Sept. 7, 1895, Ludwig Rehn successfully sutured the heart of a living man with a knife wound to the chest for the first time. Once it was deemed possible to perform surgery on the heart, others followed. 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. 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, saved his life and the term "cardiac surgeon" born.

Dr. Forrester 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".

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

"a stunning survey of cardiology’s “Golden Age” and the “misfits” who made it so... It’s a book of marvels." - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Forrester brings history to life and explains complex procedures for lay readers in this excellent book for readers interested in medical history and those who want to understand modern medical procedures." - Library Journal, Starred Review

“A heartwarming account of risk-taking, iconoclastic doctors who achieved extraordinary cardiovascular breakthroughs and of the patients who trusted them.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Dr. James Forrester has been pioneering cardiac treatment for his entire storied career. Now, he brings his ideas and knowledge to all-and the impact will be profound. This book changes the landscape in heart health.” —David B. Agus, M.D. Professor of Medicine and Engineering, University of Southern California; New York Times-bestselling author of The End of Illness and A Short Guide to a Long Life

“Dr. James Forrester's The Heart Healers is a fast-moving tale told by someone who has lived through many of the developments he describes. Forrester is a gifted writer whose prose flows effortlessly and is, by turns, both inspired and irreverent He always keeps the narrative moving quickly, letting readers in on the fact that that success was not inevitable, describing false starts and blind alleys along the way. The Heart Healers is deepened by the fact of James Forrester's career, his contact with patients and colleagues and the personal stories of patients he has treated and woven into the narrative.” —Bruce Fye, M.D. Author of Caring for the Heart: Mayo Clinic and the Rise of Specialization

“James Forrester is one of the great medical storytellers of our era. In The Heart Healers, he applies his exceptional talent to illuminate -- and tell the backstories of -- the momentous milestones in cardiovascular medicine and surgery.” —Eric Topol, cardiologist, Author of The Patient Will See You Now and The Creative Destruction of Medicine

“This book is a great read!!! Even if one is familiar with some of the players who contributed to breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine, to learn the back stories from an expert who lived through the events is a very enriching experience. Dr. Forrester makes a very compelling case that the misfits, mavericks, and rebels who persevered with their ideas truly impacted our society in ways that we cannot fully appreciate since we now take those things for granted. This is a story of disruptive innovation before that term was even invented!!” —Elliott Antman, MD, Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and President, American Heart Association 2014-2015

About the Creators

The Heart Healers

The Heart Healers