“Braunwald’s Heart Disease was what convinced me to become a cardiologist. I was still a resident when the first edition of Braunwald’s Heart Disease came out. I remember just being blown away with how Dr. Braunwald was able to bring everything in cardiology together in one book.” - Douglas L. Mann, MD
Dr. Mann’s Road to Cardiology: Drum Beats to Heart Beats
Medicine for me was actually a plan B. I initially started out wanting to play music — I played the drums —and when I realized that I didn’t have any talent I decided that I needed to apply myself in a different way. So I went back to school and I became interested in biology. When I realized that biology could be used to take care of patients, I decided to pursue medicine. How I became interested in cardiology is still a mystery to me. I totally hated cardiology during medical school, then almost from the first day of my residency; I fell in love with cardiology. What ultimately attracted me to cardiology was the idea that you could use mechanical principles to explain diseases. I also think that my background playing drums contributed to my interest in cardiology — the rhythms that you learn from playing drums helped with my auscultation skills. Cardiology is very rhythmic. You have to learn to maintain a cadence in your head when you’re listening to murmurs, especially when you are trying to superimpose those sounds on the various phases of the cardiac cycle.
Cardiology: An Evolving Field
When I started out in cardiology, there weren’t really many effective therapies. Over the past 20 or 25 years, the field has advanced both in terms of coronary intervention, as well as in therapeutics in electrophysiology and heart failure. Today we have a panoply of different medical therapies, device therapies, regenerative therapies, and cell therapies. It has been truly exciting. I’m enjoying a specialty that was very focused on the physical exam, and has now completely revolutionized itself and can save lives in so many areas.
Dr. Mann’s Fateful Phone Call
Braunwald’s Heart Disease was what convinced me to become a cardiologist. I was still a resident when the first edition of Braunwald’s Heart Disease came out and I remember just being blown away with how Dr. Braunwald was able to bring everything in cardiology together in one book. You really didn’t need to read anything else. It was as if you were having a conversation with your professor who could tell you everything you needed to know.
I remember the day that Dr. Braunwald asked me to come on as the editor for the Heart Failure companion. I heard his voice on the answering machine. So I quickly ran to the phone and picked it up, and he said, “We’d like you to be the editor for the Heart Failure companion.” It was my first experience with editing, and throughout that experience I really began to learn from Dr. Braunwald in terms of compiling and editing a textbook. When I was asked to come on for the Heart Disease series, it was a tremendous honor.
I realized that the ability to contribute to Heart Disease is to be part of a much bigger legacy, and that the responsibility of that legacy is enormous, but it’s been my great pleasure to work with my co-editors, from whom I’ve learned a tremendous amount about editing. Dr. Braunwald is one of these people who, no matter what he’s talking about, you can learn from him on almost every single occasion. His level of insight, his rigor, and his ability to see the holes in things is unparalleled. It’s truly amazing to me that I continue to learn from him every single time that I talk to him.
Douglas L. Mann, MD, FACC, is Chief of Cardiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is a member of the American International Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of University Cardiologists, the Heart Failure Society of America, the International Cytokine Society, the International Society for Heart Failure Research, and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Mann has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on the role of inflammatory mediators in heart failure and cardiac dysfunction and remodeling. He is a lead editor on the most recent edition of Braunwald’s Heart Disease and an author of Heart Failure: A Companion to Braunwald’s Heart Disease, 2nd Edition. He is a member of the editorial board of Circulation, Journal of Cardiac Failure, Heart and Vessels, Heart Failure Reviews, Heart Failure Monitor, and Cardiology Today.
Dr. Mann has received numerous awards including the Clinical Investigator Career Development Award from National Institutes of Health, the Alfred Soffer Award for Editorial Excellence from the American College of Chest Physicians, the Baylor College of Medicine Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Michael DeBakey Excellence in Research and the Simon Dack award from the ACC.