Cardiology and Art

Dr. Julia Grapsa is a consultant cardiologist and an honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College of London. She is also chair of the young community of imaging, in the European Society of Cardiology. She recently organised “Cardio MEDICINE 2016: A Field of Science – Art & Economics” in Athens – Greece, the first conference that included distinguished speakers from the fields of Science, Cardiology and Arts. In an exclusive interview, she talks with Vasia Hatzi (founder of MEDinART) about the conference and the relationship between cardiology and art.

Interview Questions from Vasia Hatzi (MEDinART)

Dr. Julia Grapsa

Dr. Julia Grapsa

Vasia Hatzi: Dr. Julia Grapsa, please tell us about your background.

Julia Grapsa: Thank you so much. I work as a Consultant Cardiologist in London, United Kingdom for the last 3 years. I was trained in England since 2005 and I subspecialised in imaging and heart failure. At the moment, I chair the young community for European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging, within European Society of Cardiology and I am also a member of the Educational Committee. The latter is a very interesting task for me as we have currently 58 ambassadors from all around the world and we address the teaching and educational needs of each young community, respectively to the financial status of each country.

VH: You have organised many training courses with the European Association of Cardiology Imaging within UK and abroad and also you are a volunteer and fundraising for children with heart disease. Tell us more about these actions.

JG: There are the most interesting parts of my duties as a Cardiologist because they are volunteering tasks. First of all, I feel that it is great to teach young people and to provide them with the opportunity to enhance their dreams and their abilities. We aim for the training courses to take place in countries that they are in need for training. It is very important to make the young doctors aware of the new modalities and the technology that is already evolved in advanced countries.

Regarding the initiative “One heart for children” this is fundraising for children with heart disease. Despite the fact that Greece is running a huge financial crisis, there is no public health sector for cardiothoracic surgery in children who are born with heart disease. These children will have to leave abroad or to pay privately in order to be treated. We joined with Cardiologists and Cardiothoracic Surgeons from abroad and we created a bug team together with the non-profit organisation “Children’s’ heart” with the main aim to raise awareness but also to help families whom children suffer from heart disease.


VH: As a chair of the young community of imaging, in the European Society of Cardiology, you have recently organised “Cardio MEDICINE 2016: A Field of Science – Art & Economics” in Athens-Greece, the first conference that included distinguished speakers from the fields of Science, Cardiology and Arts. Please tell us more about how this idea was born.

JG: The idea for CardioMED started when we decided with my colleagues from the University of Ioannina (and specifically with the significant contribution of Professor Maria Fragou, Professor of Biotechnology) to bring together scientists who are pioneers in their field and who would be able to demonstrate the beautiful side of Cardiology by being related to arts, communication or mentoring. Nowadays we are mostly focused in the rigid aspect of Cardiology and we forget the interchangeable relationship of medicine with music, painting, cinema or even the new technology. That was an innovative meeting which was praised by the European Society of Cardiology and gave a brand new perspective to the field of Cardiology.

European Association of Young Cardiologists

European Association of Young Cardiologists

VH: And what about the speakers that participated in CardioMED2016?

JG: I would like to express my gratitude to all the scientists who are the best in their field and who accepted to participate to CardioMED2016. Dr. Vasia Hatzi had a wonderful lecture on her initiative MEDinART, Dr. Alexandros Stefanidis and Dr. Theodoros Peppas employed the story of famous musicians and how they were influenced by heart problems. Dr. Rafael Vidal Perez from Spain, demonstrated how cinema has used heart disease throughout its history while Mr Apostolos Chatzis described the vital role of communication in the relationship between doctor and patient. All the speakers were exceptional and highly selected, not only for their knowledge and but also for their culture and as being real life models.

VH: What was the response from the audience?

JG: CardioMED attracted mostly young people who are at the beginning of their career like medical students and residents of Cardiology. Overall I feel that this concept was new for Greece and people who attended the meeting were impressed by the quality and the broad knowledge that the meeting offered, even though they were interested to see how this combination of Cardiology and arts could be demonstrated.

VH: How did the scientific community responded to this event?

JG: First of all the European Society of Cardiology and European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging, which endorsed the meeting, praised the innovation and the multidimensional knowledge which this offered. I feel that the meeting attracted broad minded people from the scientific community.

VH: As a cardiologist do you believe in the power of arts in curing cardiovascular diseases?

JG: Arts have been an important asset but a source of inspiration for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Music heals heart disease and it has been proven to have a positive impact on patients who are in rehabilitation post cardiac disease. As a cardiologist, I feel that arts have their own unique role in cardiovascular disease.

VH: Do you think that Cardiology can inspire Art?

JG: The way the heart is beating and all the sounds as well as complications such as the broken heart syndrome, have been a great influence for Art and Dr. Vasia Hatzis through her amazing work MEDinART has demonstrated this beauty of interaction between Cardiology and Arts. This is vice versa that Art also has inspired Cardiology and we tend as clinicians to use music or painting as a part of therapy or even for the purpose of innovative techniques which will help Medicine, such as 3D printing.

VH: If you were an artist, can you describe your hypothetical artwork inspired by the human heart?

JG: Personally, I always had an interest of mechanical parameters and valvular heart disease therefore if I was an artist, I would create an advanced model of heart valves and demonstrating attention to details meaning the beauty of the leaflet excursion and the whole balance of valvular apparatus with the papillary muscles and the chordae. I feel that nature has demonstrated accuracy in human structures, in the most beautiful way.

VH: What makes your heart beat fast?

JG: Love has been a worldwide and timeless cause for fast heartbeat including mine. In addition, the passion for creativity and the positive feelings that derive from each life moment, what we know as mindfulness, is the rhythm of our heart.


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