on 14 March 2012
The Oxford Handbook of Cardiology is an important addition to the popular pocket-sized Oxford Medical Handbook series. Both editors are consultant cardiologists with a keen interest in medical education, which is reflected in the quality of this text. They have kept to the tried and tested formula of this series and produced a brilliant and comprehensive review of cardiology aimed at general medical and cardiology trainees, allied health professionals and all those with an interest in cardiology.
There are 722 pages with 18 chapters and the content is particularly pleasing. Not only does it include all the standard chapters expected of a cardiology text (coronary artery disease, valvular disorders, etc) but also extremely welcome sections on cardiac investigations, interventional cardiology, invasive electrophysiology and landmark trials. For example, the cardiac investigations
section explains the principles, indications and clinical practice points for transthoracic and transoesophageal echocardiography
through to magnetic resonance imaging, whilst coronary intervention and electrophysiology procedures are covered in just the right
amount of detail for a book of this nature, in their respective chapters.
Other unique touches are the specialist sections on pregnancy and developing world cardiology, that provide the reader with a brief but succinct overview of these often overlooked areas. Other important chapters include cardiovascular emergencies and practical procedures (both invaluable for trainees when on call) and a cardiology trial section, which breaks studies down to their key elements, their purpose and results.
The format itself consists of topics covered in double page layouts, but greater depth is given where justified, such as the section on cardiovascular risk factors. Information is well presented, with judicious use of bullet points to keep facts easily digestable, and more importantly, aid understanding and retention.
All the illustrations are in black and white, and have been well chosen to complement the text appropriately. Images such as angiography stills are small and some are not of the best quality, but they achieve their goal more than adequately.
The only downside is that it was published in 2006, which in the fast moving world of cardiology, is noticeable. There is no information
on, for example, newer antiplatelet agents, guideline updates (atrial fibrillation and cardiac resynchronisation therapy) and transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), and recent trials are not mentioned. However, I am sure this will be addressed in a future update. Despite this, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, which is easily the best quick reference guide in cardiology available, and one that I have no hesitation in recommending.
Shouvik Haldar, Electrophysiology Research Fellow, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.