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In 1749, cardiology became a medical specialty when Jean Baptiste Senac published a comprehensive study of the heart. The development of modern cardiology heightened in 1816 when Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope. By the middle of the 19th century, the stethoscope was refined and routinely used as a diagnostic tool for the heart. Further developments, such as Carlo Matteucci's illustrated discovery of the heart's electrical charge in 1838 and Willem Einthoven's modification of the string galvanometer used to record the electrical impulses of the heart in 1903, led to the beginning stages of electrocardiography. Einthoven later refined his device and invented the electrocardiograph, an achievement that won him the Nobel Prize in 1924. Werner Forssman, Dickinson Richards, and Andre F. Cournand also won the Nobel Prize in 1956 for their use of the catheter to study the circulatory system and the heart. This achievement was made possible because of Forssman's earlier invention of the cardiac catheterization technique.

During the latter half of the 20th century, cardiology was marked by advancements in heart surgery. The first heart transplant was performed in 1967 by Christiaan Barnard, and in 1982 the first artificial heart was used by a team at the University of Utah. In July 2001 a man received the first completely implanted, battery-operated artificial heart in an experimental procedure at the University of Louisville. Cardiology has recently seen a number of innovations through the use of robotic surgery. In 2006, for example, the world's first unassisted robotic surgery to treat atrial fibrillation was successfully performed by an Italian surgeon monitoring a computer screen in Boston for his patient in Italy. By 2018, there was a movement toward "precision cardiology," an emerging approach in which treatments are targeted more specifically to individual patients based on their physiological or genetic makeup.

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