Bioethics Blogs

David S. Jones’s “Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care” by Jennifer Fraser

Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care

by David S. Jones

The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013, 336 pages.


My first encounter with David S. Jones’ Broken Hearts was in April of 2016. I had packed it in my carry-on luggage as on-plane entertainment while traveling to Minneapolis, MN for the eighty-ninth annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM). How fitting, I thought, to read about the history of heart disease in the “cradle of cardiac care,”[1] a city that transformed America’s medical enterprise by developing many innovative inventions and techniques in the field of cardiology.

And fitting it was. The conference was teeming with allusions to the University of Minnesota’s cardiac legacy. Not only was there an exhibition on the history of cardiac disease epidemiology developed by the university’s School of Public Health, but there was also a guided tour of the Visible Heart Project, a research laboratory dedicated to reanimating mammalian hearts to gain insight into the organ’s physiology. The overarching theme of both the exhibit and tour was one of progress, as both of these special presentations emphasized how far we have come in terms of gathering accurate information about the human heart. Whereas the exhibit referenced the “exponential growth”[2] that the field of cardiac epidemiology has made in terms of understanding the risk and protective factors associated with heart disease, members of the Visible Heart Laboratory claimed that their research had provided unprecedented insight into the functional anatomy of the beating heart.[3] Over half a century after University of Minnesota surgeon Dr.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.