Cardiac Drug Therapy, 6th Edition. By M. Gabriel Khan. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2003. Pages: 542. ISBN: 0721602428. Price: $44.95.

If your practice involves any patient receiving therapy for ischemic or valvular heart disease, hypertension, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, or hyperlipidemia or receiving antiplatelet/anticoagulation therapy, then M.G. Khan’s 6th edition of Cardiac Drug Therapy is a must buy for your reference library. In other words, this complete and up-to-date reference text should be of interest to every practicing clinician. This new edition includes significant new information compared with the last edition, including evidence from numerous randomized clinical trials that have been published in this area during the last 4 yr.

I highly recommend first reading the preface to the sixth edition, which is a good introduction to Khan’s entertaining style of writing and also sets the tone for the following content. Khan combines his obvious wealth of clinical experience with the succinct conclusions of pertinent randomized clinical trials to formulate his recommendations/guidelines of cardiac therapy. In particular, the book is careful to distinguish between conclusions and recommendations based on firm scientific evidence and those based on experience and theoretical considerations. Although preferring the former approach, he also does not unduly disparage the latter. However, when appropriate, he does not hesitate to reveal and discredit treatment dogmas that have been applied to clinical practice, often for years, without any scientific basis.

I suspect this text will be an exception to the usual reference text that spends most of its life sitting on the shelf, utilized occasionally for a quick reference. For example, I approached the review of this text intending only to sample its content. However, I found that I actually read the majority of the book, which for me is quite unusual for a reference text. This is probably because of Khan’s unique literary style that links inherently boring pharmacological information with current evidence and applies this directly to the experience and practice of cardiac care. The presentation is complete yet succinct, allowing a considerable amount of useful information to be consolidated into a very concise format.

I was particularly impressed with the last chapter of the text, which is a compilation of the results (in the form of charts that are very easy to read) of the most recent clinical trials pertaining to therapy for acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, hypertension, and arrhythmias. The results of these trials are also dispersed throughout the text as they pertain to current therapy guidelines and are referenced to this chapter. The text also includes the most recent Advanced Cardiac Life Support algorithms as well as chapters discussing cardiac drugs in pregnancy and a discussion of interactions of cardiovascular drugs.

In sum, this text is an excellent review of state-of-the-art cardiac therapy. It is therefore a useful reference for any individual who cares for patients with cardiac disease and should not be reserved solely for the cardiologist or internist. Medical students and residents will find it of particular value during their patient care rotations.