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The Human Heart:  A Basic Guide to Heart Disease
Author:  Brendan Phibbs, MD
Pages: 240  Soft Cover
ISBN: 0781767776
Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins   2007


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Our Review:

The Human Heart:  A Basic Guide to Heart Disease 2nd Edition
By: Brendan Phibbs MD
Wolters Kluwer/ Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

     There has been a growing need for jargon-free medical literature which is both easily comprehended and accessible to the non-expert. In part, this need has arisen over the past several decades in response to the increased recognition of patients as equal partners in healthcare decisions.  However, medical students and professionals can also benefit from clearly written texts without extraneous detail or use of esoteric terminology as they are often presented with vast amounts of material to learn in a short time.  As a rule, we would expect any single resource, no matter how well written, to fail in serving both audiences effectively.  The Human Heart:  A Basic Guide to Heart Disease 2nd Edition is a notable exception. 

     Brendan Phibbs has created a resource that distills the core knowledge of cardiology into highly readable chapters with simple diagrammatic aids to ensure understanding.  Each chapter is short and concise.  For example, the opening chapters which cover the basic structure of the heart are written from a functional perspective without extensive anatomical detail.  The majority of the book is devoted to cardiac pathophysiology and diagnostic techniques.  For a reference that is little over 200 pages in length, there is an admirable amount of practical information on topics ranging from pharmaceutical therapy options for coronary artery disease to the latest information on arrhythmia management.    

      Of great importance to the lay reader is a presentation of the most effective method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation developed by colleagues of the author.  This method differs fundamentally from prior standards but the rationale for the changes that are advocated is clearly set forth.  

     The author’s years of experience as a clinician and teacher show throughout the book.  One can imagine the text developing from a long list of “frequently asked questions” posed by his patients and students.  The text also reflects a deep understanding of how to avoid confusion while explaining complex physiological processes.  The book uses terms to which nearly any reader can relate.  This makes it an excellent primer on heart disease for medical personnel as well as comprehensive reference guide for patients who want to be better informed about their disease and treatment.

Reviewed by:  Joseph V. Russo, M.S.

Table of Contents: 

Structure and Function of the Normal Heart

Valves of the Heart

Pumping Action of the Heart

Blood Supply of the Heart

The Functioning Normal Heart

Heart Failure

Hypertensive Heart Disease

Coronary Heart Disease

The Heart Valves

The Autonomic or Automatic Nervous System

The Electrocardiogram

Cardiac Arrhythmias

Congenital Heart Disease

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Pregnancy and Heart Disease

Pulmonary Heart Disease

Imaginary Heart Disease

To Pace or Not to Pace

Medical Treatment of Heart Failure

Catheterization of the Heart and Coronary Arteriography

Cardiac Surgery

Heart Attack

Measuring the Efficiency of the Heart

Special Diagnostic Procedures

Review Test



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