Current advances in molecular biology, chip technology, and computing rapidly blend the limits of that which is possible and science fiction.
The human genome project has huge consequences for the future of medicine in general and for heart research in particular. Finding faulty genes and proteins which cause heart disease provides keys to the prevention and treatment for almost all of the diseases.
The development of DNA chips will allow us to rapidly screen individuals for genetic patterns of inherited diseases, and reveal missing or damaged gene sequences. It will then be possible to tailor therapeutic options or restore the normal function of proteins by gene therapy.
Artificial hearts are getting smaller and more controllable by the demands of the living body. Their wide use in heart failure patients will soon become a realistic, permanent option for survival.
Further advances in tissue engineering will allow us to replace failing heart muscle cells, torn or leaky valves, restore the natural pacemakers of the heart affected by diseases and so on.
The future also holds the promise of early embryonic detection of congenital heart defects. If detected they will then be repaired by either gene therapy, drug treatment, or fetal surgery.