Book Review - A one-stop authority on cardiovascular medicine for the GP

This book provides just the right level of detail in an easy-to-read, no-frills style, says Dr Raj Thakkar.

With increased pressure to provide high-quality medicine in the community, reduce secondary care referrals and meet patient expectations, it is imperative for GPs to have rapid access to up-to-date and reliable medical information.

Many specialist texts have been aimed at secondary care doctors, however Comprehensive Cardiovascular Medicine in the Primary Care Setting has been designed specifically for primary care. This American book has been written and edited by authorities including those from Harvard Medical School and is designed to offer a very hands-on and practical guide to cardiovascular disease. Published in 2010 to incorporate the latest research and ideas, this must-have book elegantly details information with an easy-to-read, no-frills approach.

Detailed content
The level of information included is challenging and interesting, offering detail without blinding the reader with irrelevant science. The language is clear, well written and uncomplicated.

The authors should also be congratulated on the content of this book. It begins with a strong section on prevention of cardiovascular disease, focusing particularly on hypertension, lipid disorders, obesity, the metabolic syndrome and renal disease in primary care. The subsequent sections cover coronary artery disease, carotid artery disease, valve disease, pericardial disorders, cardiac failure, arrhythmias, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, thromboembolic disease, pulmonary hypertension, erectile dysfunction, aortic aneurysms and cardiac imaging.

Each chapter begins with key points, followed by epidemiology, relevant pathophysiology and useful points in the history and examination. Impressive coverage of evidence-based treatments is one of the many strengths of this book. Coloured illustrations and clear headings break up the text, while interesting case studies consolidate the learning points and also serve as a basis for further discussion. Finally, each chapter is fully referenced for those wanting to undertake further study.

The book lacks a detailed review of diabetes mellitus in the context of heart disease and there is little debate about the examination findings in cardiac failure. In addition, there may be an argument against buying a book that refers to American rather than British or European guidelines. Nevertheless, these shortcomings should be forgiven in light of the impressive overall assault on cardiovascular medicine in primary care.

  • Dr Thakkar is a GP in Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire
  • Comprehensive Cardiovascular Medicine in the Primary Care Setting, by Dr Peter Toth and Dr Christopher Cannon, priced £162, is available from

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