Heart disease, which “kills more people around the world than all the cancers combined,” is the primary threat to human health across the globe. In “Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart,” Swartz charts the evolution of cardiac technologies. The editor of Texas Monthly magazine who co-authored a book in 2003 about the Enron collapse focuses on the individuals responsible for breakthroughs in artificial heart research. She examines four Texans, in particular, and how their work has radically altered the surgical success and survival rates of heart patients worldwide. These trailblazing physicians demonstrated drive and the creative innovation necessary to revolutionize the way heart patients survived and thrived through the development of new techniques and life-saving devices.
Sadly, the book does not address the ethical limits of innovation, the bioethical dilemmas that naturally occur, or the patients’/families’ reactions and feelings when their experimental surgeries fail. Although this book is likely to resonate more for cardiac patients and their physicians, even casually-interested readers will be fascinated by Swartz’s vivid depictions of both the daring doctors’ work and some of the more complicated surgeries involved. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve a permanent artificial heart, this is not a tale of man’s triumph over nature, yet it does illustrate the leaps and bounds happening in the medical arena and provides hope for those suffering from heart disease.
Mimi Swartz will talk about “Ticker” at the Book Festival 12 p.m. Nov. 6.