Breaking News
December 17, 2017 - Teens Acting Badly? Smog Could Be to Blame
December 17, 2017 - FDA Says ‘Yes’ to Short-Acting Insulin Admelog
December 17, 2017 - Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows
December 17, 2017 - Lower Urinary Symptoms Occur in Almost All Patients with SSc
December 17, 2017 - Genetic mutation in extended Amish family in Indiana protects against aging and increases longevity (Update)
December 16, 2017 - Butler Hospital launches international Alzheimer’s disease prevention study
December 16, 2017 - iMedicalApps: Virtual Reality Boosts Self-Confidence for Med Students
December 16, 2017 - Researchers validate five new genes responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
December 16, 2017 - New genetic analysis of candidiasis reveals surprising fungal sex secrets
December 16, 2017 - New high precision machine-learning model could help accelerate drug discovery
December 16, 2017 - Groundbreaking gene therapy trial brings cure for hemophilia closer
December 16, 2017 - Racial Differences Seen in IgG4 Disease
December 16, 2017 - Treacher Collins Syndrome
December 16, 2017 - New approach to tracking how deadly ‘superbugs’ travel could slow their spread
December 16, 2017 - Muscle paralysis may promote breakdown of bones
December 16, 2017 - WSU scientists create injectable dye to track progression of diseases
December 16, 2017 - Kaiser Permanente delivers clot-busting drugs to stroke patients more than twice as fast as national rates
December 16, 2017 - Some Great Holiday Foods for Weight Loss
December 16, 2017 - Shared Decision-Making Strategies for Lung Ca Screening Get High Marks
December 16, 2017 - Lactic acid bacteria can protect against Influenza A virus, study finds
December 16, 2017 - Cancer immunotherapy’s effectiveness may depend on patient’s genetic makeup
December 16, 2017 - Researchers explore patient-doctor conversations, best practices linked to opioid tapering
December 16, 2017 - ‘Virtual child’ to help professionals learn key techniques to treat children with autism
December 16, 2017 - IU scientists discover way to make drug treatment more successful against malaria
December 16, 2017 - Prostate cancer researchers find significant disparities between two liquid biopsy providers
December 16, 2017 - ED-Diagnosed Lung Ca Patients Worse Off: Clin Onc News Report
December 16, 2017 - Calcium in Urine Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
December 16, 2017 - Pregnancy-related conditions taken together leave moms—and dads—at risk
December 16, 2017 - Research uncovers mechanism implicated in defective function of tumor-associated dendritic cells
December 16, 2017 - OncoBreak: Stubborn Racial Disparities; Paid Medical Leave & Chemo; DIY Gene Tests
December 16, 2017 - Critical link between obesity and diabetes has been identified
December 16, 2017 - Transfusion dependence reduces access to high-quality end-of-life care for leukemia patients
December 16, 2017 - Porvair and Suzhou Tianlong Bio to develop epigenetic analysis technologies
December 16, 2017 - FDA Approves Ixifi (infliximab-qbtx), a Biosimilar to Remicade
December 16, 2017 - Morning Break: Trump to Get Check-Up; Cancerous Transplant; Death Knell for MIPS?
December 16, 2017 - First transcatheter implant for diastolic heart failure successful
December 16, 2017 - ‘Sushi-like’ nanodiscs provide structural snapshots of misfolding proteins
December 16, 2017 - Inherited gene variation may be to blame for poor survival of patients with early-onset breast cancer
December 16, 2017 - Sign-up deadline is Friday, but some people may get extra time
December 16, 2017 - Higher Booze Taxes Might Pay Off for Public Health
December 16, 2017 - Regular Activity in Midlife Spares Joints in Women
December 16, 2017 - Rain May Not Cause Achy Joints After All: MedlinePlus Health News
December 16, 2017 - MedDiet adherence doesn’t affect acute heart failure mortality
December 16, 2017 - HKBU experts develop new generation of smart anti-cancer drug molecules
December 16, 2017 - Chronic Kidney Disease Audit finds wide variations in coding of CKD patients in primary care
December 16, 2017 - Scientists use nanoparticles to fight Mucoviscidosis
December 16, 2017 - Increasing physical activity decreases risk of death from lymphoma
December 16, 2017 - Fear compromises the health, well-being of immigrant families, survey finds
December 16, 2017 - Rejected antibiotic candidate could be worth a second look, research finds
December 16, 2017 - Is Nation on the Right Track to Combat Opioid Crisis?
December 16, 2017 - Arthritis No Longer Just a Disease of the Old: MedlinePlus Health News
December 16, 2017 - Study reveals biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury
December 16, 2017 - Family members without inherited mutation have increased risk of melanoma
December 16, 2017 - Researchers reveal previously unknown mechanism that inhibits cells’ ability to develop into tumors
December 16, 2017 - Studies highlight potential of fMRI applications to detect, treat epilepsy in children
December 16, 2017 - Active surveillance proposed as first-line approach to manage patients with low-risk PMC of the thyroid
December 16, 2017 - Patients’ life values affect their attendance at medical treatment for pelvic-floor dysfunction
December 16, 2017 - Experts consider hazards of antibiotic resistances to be high
December 16, 2017 - Study finds erectile dysfunction as risk factor for early cardiovascular disease
December 16, 2017 - Amber-tinted glasses may reduce insomnia severity
December 16, 2017 - Arthritis Drug Seen Lowering GvHD Risk
December 16, 2017 - Atoh1, a potential Achilles’ heel of Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma
December 15, 2017 - Cornell engineers develop new method to measure vital signs using radio waves
December 15, 2017 - Rutgers studies highlight need for salon clients, workers to protect themselves from health risks
December 15, 2017 - FDA Approves Nucala (mepolizumab) for Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss Syndrome)
December 15, 2017 - Morning Break: CVS Buying Aetna; Uterus Transplant Baby; Your Brain on Drugs, Redux
December 15, 2017 - Social phobia linked to autism and schizophrenia
December 15, 2017 - Timestrip technology helping to prevent missed vaccinations
December 15, 2017 - Researchers win NIH grants for Alzheimer’s research on Amish resilience and rapid onset
December 15, 2017 - Mitochondrial error-correction mechanism essential for energy production of cells
December 15, 2017 - New report reveals steep rise in lung disease admissions to emergency departments during winter
December 15, 2017 - Study finds social stigma as barrier to successful treatment of children with HIV in Ethiopia
December 15, 2017 - Health Tip: Keep Gift-Giving Stress Under Wraps
December 15, 2017 - Long Stoppage of Bisphosphonates Tied to More Fractures
December 15, 2017 - Triglycerides Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
December 15, 2017 - Study shows interventions, though few, can be effective for students with high-functioning autism
December 15, 2017 - Higher blood sugar during first trimester of pregnancy increases child’s risk of congenital heart defect
December 15, 2017 - Study tests accuracy of laboratory-developed cancer tests and FDA-approved companion diagnostics
December 15, 2017 - Extracellular vesicles can be used to effectively delay progression of kidney damage
December 15, 2017 - Targeted lung cancer treatments may benefit smokers and non-smokers alike
Pickled in ‘cognac’, Chopin’s heart gives up its secrets

Pickled in ‘cognac’, Chopin’s heart gives up its secrets

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Frederic Chopin was born at this house in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw in 1810, and later moved to France
Frederic Chopin was born at this house in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw in 1810, and later moved to France

The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world’s most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

The prolific 19th-century Polish-French pianist and composer died at the age of 39, of what had long been believed to be tuberculosis (TB).

However, in 2008, Polish medical experts raised the possibility that Chopin—whose health had always been very frail—had actually suffered from cystic fibrosis (CF).

The genetic respiratory illness clogs the lungs with sticky, thick mucus and sufferers on average generally do not survive past their late 30s.

Now, Polish scientists, who were the first to use modern technology to study Chopin’s heart—preserved for the last 168 years inside a crystal jar in what appears to be cognac—believe they are a step closer to an accurate diagnosis.

“We can say that it is highly possible that it was tuberculosis,” lead researcher Professor Michal Witt, a top specialist in molecular and clinical genetics, told AFP.

Unable to open the hermetically sealed jar, his team of medical experts used high-resolution photographs taken in 2014 to make their diagnosis.

“The lesions which we saw fit well with the initial diagnosis which was held for years, namely tuberculosis.

The heart of Polish pianist and composer Frederic Chopin, kept in a church in Warsaw, could provide further clues as to how he d
The heart of Polish pianist and composer Frederic Chopin, kept in a church in Warsaw, could provide further clues as to how he died

“The lesions are clearly visible on the pericardium of Chopin’s heart,” Witt said, referring to the organ’s outer membrane typically affected by complications stemming from TB.

‘Still debatable’

The findings of Witt and his team are due to be published in the February print issue of the esteemed American Journal of Medicine, complete with a unique photograph of the pickled heart.

But without DNA tests, Witt admits that he cannot entirely rule out the possibility of cystic fibrosis.

In 2008, Poland’s culture ministry rejected a request by academics to run DNA tests on the relic to check for the CFTR gene, a telltale sign of cystic fibrosis, over fears the procedure could irreparably damage the heart.

Whether Chopin suffered from cystic fibrosis “is still debatable”, Witt told AFP.

“We cannot prove this for sure, but the likelihood that it was tuberculosis rather than cystic fibrosis is far, far higher.

Frederic Chopin’s body is at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, while his heart is in Poland

“We can say that with a high degree of confidence.”

Records show that as an adult weighing 40 kilogrammes (88 pounds) at a height of 1.70 metres (five feet seven inches), Chopin was chronically underweight, a typical symptom of cystic fibrosis.

Without genetic tests, it is also impossible to be entirely certain that the organ itself is Chopin’s, although as Witt points out, there “is no reason to believe that it isn’t, at least to our knowledge.”

Cognac?

Last examined in 1945 after World War II, the heart is “clearly visible” and well preserved in what Witt calls a “light amber brown” liquid.

“It’s highly possible that it is cognac,” he said, adding that “since the French Revolution, cognac has been used as a preservation fluid in France.”

Chopin’s heart is kept inside a pillar in Warsaw’s sprawling and ornate baroque Church of the Holy Cross.

A memorial tablet marks the place where Chopin’s heart is kept in Warsaw’s Saint Cross church

After his death in exile in Paris in 1849, it was brought to Chopin’s native Warsaw that same year by his elder sister Ludwika to honour his dying wish.

The rest of Chopin’s remains are buried in the French capital’s Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Born in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw in 1810, Chopin composed many of his most moving pieces in his father’s native France, where he ended up after an 1830-31 uprising of Polish insurgents against the 1795 partition of Poland by Russia, Prussia and Austria.

Having refused to take a Russian passport, he was never able to set foot on his and his mother’s native Polish soil following the failed insurrection.

Described by 19th-century German composer Robert Schumann as “cannons hidden among blossoms”, Chopin’s music was and remains a symbol of Poland’s long and turbulent struggle for freedom.


Explore further:
Experts: Chopin’s heart shows signs of TB

Journal reference:
American Journal of Medicine

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles