Sarah Goodwin

Kathi Ovnic
Holly Korschun
December 9, 1998


When Stuart D. Hurst was 10, he asked his grandfather, an Emory cardiologist, so many questions about the heart for his science project that his grandfather exclaimed, "The answers would fill a book!" "OK," Stuart said, "let's write a book."

The result of that conversation is The Heart: The Kids' Question & Answer Book, written by Stuart and his grandfather, J. Willis Hurst, M.D., and published this fall by McGraw-Hill.

Who better to serve as Stuart's co-author than Dr. Hurst ­ author and editor of seven editions of the definitive cardiology text, The Heart (7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990) as well as editor and author of more than 50 medical books and author of more than 300 scientific articles?

Stuart's book answers all sorts of questions about the heart and blood, including the following, through conversations among several fictional children and a camp doctor:

Q: "Is our heart really shaped like a valentine?"Your heart looks only the slightest bit like a lopsided valentine. But a better way to think of it is to imagine a two-story house ­ a tiny house the size of your fist. What turns on the heart's pump? What makes it go?"

A: The same thing that turns on your computer and keeps your frozen yogurt frozen: electricity. But people don't need to be plugged in. The heart has its own power plant called the sinus node that makes electricity

Q: Why are veins blue?

A: Because the blood in the veins has given up its reddening oxygen to your cells.

The book also includes many colorful illustrations by Patricia J. Wynne, and medical illustrators Patsy Bryan and Shawna Todd of Emory Biomedical Media.

One drawing compares a highway cloverleaf with the heart and lung circulation loops. The book closes with an understandable glossary of medical terms.

For three decades, Dr. Hurst chaired the Emory University School of Medicine's largest department, the department of Medicine. He has been listed among the nation's best doctors in Good Housekeeping (1983 and 1991) and Town & Country (1984) magazines. He has served as president of the American Heart Association (1971-72) and the Association of Professors of Medicine (1984-85).

Dr. Hurst currently is a consultant to the Division of Cardiology in Emory's department of Medicine, teaches eight sessions each week and writes the remainder of the time. One of Dr. Hurst's recent books, LBJ: To Know Him Better (Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Austin, Texas, 1995), chronicles his experience as cardiologist to the 36th president.

Stuart is now 14-years-old. When not publishing books, he enjoys school and sports. He is an eighth-grader at Ridgeview Middle School in the Buckhead area of Atlanta and is the son of Steve and Leslie Hurst of Atlanta. Dr. Hurst lives in Buckhead with his wife, Nelie.

The Heart: The Kids' Question & Answer Book currently is available for $8.95 at Barnes & Noble at Cumberland, Majors Scientific Bookstore and via the internet at and It will soon be available at bookstores throughout Atlanta.


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