Wow, We’ve Come a Long Way
Even from ancient times mankind has mused and pondered over the heart as an organ. Believe it or not, civilization hasn’t always had a strong understanding of the heart’s basic functions or its relationship with the rest of the body. Today we will discuss the history of heart treatment, the understanding of the heart and how far we’ve come in treating heart disease with breakthroughs like the LAA occluder.
History of the Heart
Theories about the function of the heart date back to Aristotle and ancient Egypt. The Egyptians thought the heart did all the thinking for a person, thus they would throw out the brain when mummifying dead people. The heart was considered sacred and kept in canopic jars in the tombs of deceased persons so they could have their ‘necessary’ organs in the afterlife. In ancient Greece Aristotle identified the heart as the body’s most important organ, but still couldn’t identify what the heart exactly contributed to life. It wasn’t until the mid 17th century that a lot of misconceptions about the heart were challenged.
Advances in Heart Technology
In 1706 a French anatomy professor named Raymond de Vieussens described the heart’s different chambers in great detail. The following centuries brought several breakthroughs in understanding the heart including the invention of the stethoscope and the electrocardiograph. Scientists realized the heart does not think for the body, but rather acts as a pump to circulate oxygenated blood to vital organs. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that the first open heart surgery was completed by Robert E. Gross, an American surgeon. As technology continued to develop, so did treatments for the heart. In the late 70s the first whole heart transplant was completed by South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard.
In a matter of a few centuries human grasp of the heart grew from a backwards feudalism to a comprehensive modern understanding. Modern society continues to see the newest technology applied to keeping the heart healthy and functioning. Patients at risk of heart attack can have implanted pacemakers that defibrillate the heart whenever abnormal rhythm is detected. Open heart surgery is now an everyday occurrence and organ donors are able to save thousands of lives by posthumously offering up hearts, lungs, livers and other organs to those in need. Currently medical scientists are developing a breakthrough device that can reduce the likelihood of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients. At Coherex we are working tirelessly to bring forward that device, called an LAA occluder, to the general public.