Michael H. Crawford, John P. DiMarco, eds.
1648 pp. New York, NY: Mosby International Limited; 2001. $149.00. ISBN 0-7234-3138-8
The notion of undertaking the planning, writing, and editing a comprehensive cardiology textbook strikes one as daunting. There are several outstanding, and longstanding, general cardiology texts already in publication and numerous more specialized books available that cover topics of every conceivable, even esoteric, area of cardiovascular disease. But Crawford and DiMarco have not only accepted this challenge, they have achieved immense success with the publication of their new textbook, Cardiology.
This text is not just a “me-too” product, but a wonderful addition to the library of any generalist or subspecialist with an interest in cardiovascular diseases. In fact, the editors note that they were driven by a desire to not just appeal to the specialist audience but to provide information that is appropriate and appealing for general practitioners and trainees as well.
Cardiology is an enormous book of more than 1600 pages. It is organized into 8 well-defined sections, each containing 10 to 20 chapters that mostly fall into a 5 to 10 page range. These nicely focused chapters are very readable in a brief period and each follows a basic template, including an introductory box of bulleted highlights, which allows the reader to gain familiarity with style and helps with retention of the material. This is equally helpful for busy clinicians trying to quickly review a topic or for trainees studying for board examinations.
This textbook covers an almost amazing spectrum of topics, ranging from the highly specialized, such as pacemaker-lead extraction or the cardiovascular response to high-altitude travel, to the incredibly practical, like the chapter on behavioral modification in cardiac disease with inappropriate disability. There is something for everyone here. The discussions of therapeutic drug recommendations are appropriately focused on results from randomized clinical trials when available, and an early chapter spends some time reviewing basic statistical principles, which should help the reader better digest all this information. At the end of each section there are brief but very helpful chapters devoted to very specific clinical dilemmas within that disease area; an example is the chapter on the child with hypercholesterolemia. These sorts of topics have typically been covered only in more narrowly-specialized books. Finally, the editors have wisely chosen to provide focused references rather than the exhaustive lists of several hundred citations seen in other textbooks.
The accompanying artwork and images contained in each chapter are one of the highlights of the textbook. There are pictures and drawings to illustrate basic principles and flow diagrams to provide algorithmic framework for the evaluation of common problems. As with the templates for the text, the figures have been produced in a consistent style to capitalize on familiarity and improve readability. Some of the pictures and drawings that accompany the sections on surgical treatment are incredibly straightforward and instructive for the nonsurgical reader to follow. The chapter on acute myocardial infarction contains some terrific electrocardiograms (ECGs) that are not just the one or two representative leads that most texts provide, but full 12-lead ECGs.
The editors note in their Preface that the diagnostic procedures of cardiology are heavily oriented around imaging and so they have focused much effort on producing high-quality images. These are one of the book’s true highlights. Additionally, purchasers of the book receive access from the publisher to a password-protected website where all of the photographs and drawings are available as downloadable slides. The website is easy to navigate and the slides are of very good quality for incorporation into talks or other teaching materials.
Are there flaws with this textbook? Of course. The sheer size of the book will relegate it to a desk corner or bookcase. This is not the book to carry on rounds or even back and forth between home and the office. And, like most textbooks, trying to stay up-to-date in certain very rapidly-moving fields, like the management of acute coronary disease or coronary intervention techniques, is challenging and advances will likely require frequent revisions or updates to the first edition. Nonetheless, Cardiology is a superb addition to an already first-class lineup of contemporary textbooks on cardiovascular disease.