WEAVING MEDICAL NARRATIVE AND CUTTING-EDGE SCIENCE, DR. MIMI GUARNERI EXPLORES THE FRONTIERS BEYOND THE PHYSICAL HEART.
Every day, 2,600 Americans die of cardiovascular disease -- one person every thirty-three seconds. Ten times more women die of heart disease than breast cancer. Despite remarkable interventional and surgical procedures, over 650,000 new heart attacks occur annually. With groundbreaking new research, Dr. Guarneri skillfully blends the science and drama of the heart's unfolding. She reveals the heart as a multilayered, complex organ and explores the new science that indicates the heart acts as a powerhouse of its own, possessing intelligence, memory, and decision-making abilities that are separate from the mind.
When Dr. Guarneri was only eight, her vivacious forty-year-old mother died of a heart attack. To overcome the powerlessness she felt that night in Brooklyn when her mother was taken from her, she became a cardiologist -- healing her own heart by healing the hearts of her patients. Dr. Guarneri spent her early years as an overworked, sleep-deprived medical student, trained to view the heart as a simple mechanical pump. She came to realize through the lives of her patients, her own medical journeys, and breakthroughs in heart research that medicine is not just about stitching up patients and sending them on their way. The heart may be "broken" as much by loneliness and depression as high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. The lessons of the heart are as much about forgiveness and gratefulness as they are about genetics and nutrition. And healing the heart can have much more to do with healing a mind and soul than we ever knew.
From the racing heartbeats of cardiac emergencies to the gentle rhythms of healing touch, Dr. Guarneri draws us into the intimate moments of life and death. She leads us on a riveting exploration of the heart's mysteries, such as why heart transplant recipients may suddenly display unique characteristics of their donor or why someone who has normal coronary arteries may experience a heart attack. For it is only by knowing the whole heart -- the mental heart, affected by hostility, stress, and depression; the emotional heart, able to be crushed by loss; the intelligent heart, with a nervous system all its own; the spiritual heart, which yearns for a higher purpose; and the universal heart, which communicates with others -- that we can truly heal.
A lyrical writer as well as a cardiologist, the author, founder and medical director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, describes how she learned that beyond the power of our most sophisticated medical equipment is a physician's humanity "the listening ear, the healing touch, the devices of healers throughout time." Guarneri became highly accomplished at angioplasty and stent procedures, but came to realize that those she treated could also be helped by proper nutrition and stress reduction techniques such as yoga and visualization. She became committed to practices such as those of Dean Ornish, with whom she has worked, to reverse coronary disease with diet, exercise, meditation and support groups. Guarneri studied the link between depression and heart disease, and opened her mind to the validity of other alternative treatments, including energy healing, visualization before and after surgery, and spiritual practices. What is particularly attractive about this chronicle is the author's graceful integration of her own story the destructive effect on her of stress and overwork into those of her patients. Guarneri deplores the financial constraints that prevent doctors from spending time with patients and that many physicians have developed "a mechanic's mentality," focused on fixing rather than getting to know their patients.
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The Heart Speaks
This is a wonderful book. I had it on my Sony Book Reader and liked it so much I had to get it for my iPad. There is so much involved regarding the Heart not just as the author says as a pump. The book covers how important this organ is and why it should be treated better.