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State of the Heart

Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease

Haider Warraich

St. Martin's Press

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ISBN10: 1250169704
ISBN13: 9781250169709


352 Pages



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State of the Heart traces the entire arc of the heart, from the very first time it was depicted on stone tablets, to a future in which it may very well become redundant. While heart disease has been around for a while, the type of heart disease people have, why they have it, and how it’s treated is changing. Yet, the golden age of heart science is only just beginning. And with treatments of heart disease altering the very definitions of human life and death, there is no better time to look at the present and future of heart disease, the doctors and nurses who treat it, the patients and caregivers who live with it, and the stories they hold close to their chests.

More people die of heart disease than any other disease in the world and when any form of heart disease progresses, it can result in the development of heart failure. Heart failure affects millions and can affect anyone at anytime, a child recovering from a viral infection, a woman who has just given birth or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy. Yet new technology to treat heart failure is fundamentally changing just what it means to be human. Mechanical pumps can be surgically sown into patients’ hearts and when patients with these pumps get really sick, sometimes they don’t need a doctor or a surgeon—they need a mechanic.

In State of the Heart, the journey to rid the world of heart disease is shown to be reflective of the journey of medical science at large. We are learning not only that women have as much heart disease as men, but that the type of heart disease women experience is diametrically different from that in men. We are learning that heart disease and cancer may have more in common than we could have imagined. And we are learning how human evolution itself may have led to the epidemic of heart disease. In understanding how our knowledge of the heart evolved, State of the Heart traces the twisting and turning road that science has taken—filled with potholes and blind turns—all the way back to its very origin.


Praise for State of the Heart

"With this delightful book, written with warmth, wisdom and humor, Warraich keeps you engaged and entertained through hundreds of pages. It’s a 'must read' volume, and a wonderful addition to the literature of medicine."—Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times bestselling author of The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies

"State of the Heart provides an insightful look into the diseases of our most hallowed organ. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the pump that keeps us alive."—Sandeep Jauhar, New York Times bestselling author of Doctored and Heart: A History

"Dr. Warraich's book is filled with fascinating historical and contemporary details about the heart, as well as of the men and women who have helped shape our understanding of it."—Damon Tweedy, New York Times bestselling author of Black Man in a White Coat

"State of the Heart reminds us that we are all candidates for heart disease. Information can protect us. There are few more entertaining ways to gain that knowledge than by reading Warraich’s splendid memoirs of a career in Cardiology."—Dr. Stephen Westaby, author of Open Heart and Fragile Lives

“What struck me about State of the Heart is the state of the author—how a young cardiologist could have such an astute, wise perspective of the field and be an extraordinary storyteller.”—Eric Topol, author of Deep Medicine and The Patient Will See You Now

"Haider Warraich brings academic rigor and a writer's empathy to his exploration of the mysteries, both literal and metaphorical, of the human heart. State of the Heart is a welcome, openhearted addition to the histories of this complex and challenging subject."—Mimi Swartz, author of Ticker and Power Failure

"A deep immersion in the world of cardiac disease. Warraich does a yeoman's job explaining the various physiological aspects of the heart and its many influences . . . but where he shines is in introducing anecdotal evidence and vivid stories to add color to the raw data. An expansive, well-tempered profile of our most metaphorical organ."Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt



The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept, in silence sealed.

—Charlotte Brontë, “Evening Solace,” 1846

Before I walked into my patient’s room, I huddled outside with...

About the author

Haider Warraich

DR. HAIDER WARRAICH is currently a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. His medical and Op Ed pieces have appeared in many media outlets including the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and the LA Times among others. He is also the author of Modern Death.

Shawn Rocco, Duke Health

Haider Warraich

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