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ABC of clinical electrocardiography
  1. T J Coats

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    F Morris, J Edhouse, W J Brady, J Camm, editors. (Pp 79; £16.95). BMJ Books, London, 2003. ISBN 0-7279-1536-3

    I thought that the ABC of Clinical Electrocardiography was excellent when published as a series of articles in the British Medical Journal. Collecting these articles together has created a book that is a pleasure to read. It is pitched at exactly the right level for the emergency medicine practitioner—comprehensive, but without getting distracted into the esoteric.

    The format of the book is easily readable, with every page having many examples of ECGs, or diagrams, to illuminate the text. Key points are collected together with the liberal use of headings to break down a complex subject into digestible pieces. This format means that the book might also appeal to the interested undergraduate who wanted to go beyond the basics of ECG interpretation. The structured and visual format will make this book a useful quick reference in the clinical setting.

    The book does exactly what it says on the cover. There is no information about the management of the underlying clinical conditions, which has enabled the ABC of Clinical Electrocardiography to remain concise and to the point.

    The first chapter contains a revision of the basic physiology, illustrated by well coloured diagrams. The rest of the first half of the book deals with common arrhythmias and myocardial infarction. Coverage of these subjects in some detail seems to be very appropriate. I liked the fact that a chapter on exercise testing was included, as this investigation is likely to be moving much closer to the emergency department in the future, and may well come under the remit of the emergency physician in a clinical decision unit. Subsequent chapters are about conditions affecting the right and left heart, and conditions causing ECG abnormalities from a non-cardiac causes. The paediatric chapter contains more information than most of us will need, but may be useful for those working emergency department near paediatric cardiac centres.

    In the introduction Francis Morris suggests that ECG interpretation is all about pattern recognition. This book certainly improved my pattern recognition skills.