The heart continues to have a central place in Western medicine. Heart diseases are common, and many of the most prominent new approaches to disease in the past few decades have been directed at heart disease. Cardiologists have become the most powerful subspecialists in internal medicine.

But the heart has long been central to the broader Western culture as well. The heart is seen as the seat of the emotions - as in the expressions a "broken heart," "crimes of the heart," a "bleeding heart," and a "change of heart." The heart is also the source of strength: "Take heart!" or "You've gotta have heart." The heart is metaphorically the site of a central issue or concern, as in the "heart of the country" or the "heart of the issue." Finally, the heart is often seen, both metaphorically and literally, as the source of life, and its failure is considered both a cause and a marker of death. Concepts of heart disease are drawn from general cultural concepts of what it means to be human, and studies of how and when they change will increase our understanding not only of the history of medicine but of history in general.

Joel D. Howell

Your Heart and Nutrition

Your Heart and Nutrition

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