The heart has always held a special fascination for humans: it has been the seat of the soul; the home of emotions; and the pump that when beating, symbolizes life, and when silent, signifies death. Perhaps no other organ in the body has been so closely scrutinized. Therefore it is appropriate that as scientists and clinicians from around the globe gather at the 2011 American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions, we devote this theme issue of JAMA to cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is our hope that readers will clearly see that cardiovascular medicine remains a vital and rapidly changing discipline, filled with innovation yet also confronting significant challenges.
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