Book on Heart Disease Geared for Preventive Role

Reviewed by Sharon Lister, OTR/L
Considering heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and Americans are becoming more health-conscious, Heart Talk: Preventing and Coping with Silent and Painful Heart Disease by Peter F. Cohn, MD, and Joan K. Cohn, DSW, is a timely addition to the collection of resources available on cardiovascular diseases. This book demonstrates the role of health habits in preventing heart disease.
“Heart Talk” was written with the general public in mind and is easily read and understood. All of the medical terminologies that is used is clearly defined. In addition, the authors have included a glossary at the end of the hook for easy, reference. The book is easy to follow because many case examples are discussed throughout the book to illustrate the authors’ points.
The authors are both faculty members at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and have a special interest in heart disease. Dr. P. Cohn is a researcher in the area of “silent” heart dis-ease, and Dr. J. Cohn focuses her work on the assistance of patients and their families in coping with the emotional components of heart disease. The book begins by emphasizing the frequency of heart disease in the general public and the prevalence of “silent” heart disease—the heart disease that strikes without. symptoms. The authors report an estimated one to two million middle-aged men in the United States are unaware that they have blockages in their coronary arteries.
Realizing that silent heart disease is so prevalent and its detection is important, the authors explore several common diagnostic procedures. Included are continuous electrographic Hotter monitorings, stress (exercise) tests, thallium stress tests, exercise radionuclide ventriculograms. and coronary arteriograms.
Each of these tests is explained in-depth, and the pros and cons of each are mentioned. Research supporting each procedure is also provided.
The authors continue their focus on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases by listing risk factors and their impact on normal cardiovascular physiology In addition, suggestions are presented to help reduce risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol, and stress.
The authors list drug therapy, behavior modification, education, hypnosis, personal hints, and the American Cancer Society’s eight-step technique as ways to quit smoking.
For a second risk factor—cholesterol and diet control—the authors provide suggestions for controlling weight, eating the proper foods, and lowering salt intake. In addition, they provide hints for shopping and dining in restaurants. For people who enjoy cooking, a week’s worth of recipes for a healthy diet is found at the end of the book.
Finally, the authors advocate exercise as a way to provide an outlet for stress and the possible assistance of exercise in preventing coronary artery disease. They emphasize the importance of checking with a physician before starting an exercise program.
The last few chapters of “Heart Talk” are devoted to living with heart disease. Both medical and surgical treatments are reviewed. Importantly, emotional reactions by family members and personal sexual implications are covered.
Overall, the book was quite informative and well-written. At times I felt the authors were repetitive; however, their points were competent and convey properly.
As an occupational therapist, I was, however, disappointed with the small amount of attention devoted to stress management. I would have liked to have read more information regarding mental relaxation and biofeedback techniques. Another complaint pertains to the authors’ lack of listing a reference section. The authors cited many studies throughout the book; however, they did not provide the reader with a source.
Despite the minor flaws in the documentation, I feel that this book would be helpful for cardiac patients and those people at risk for heart attacks. The suggestion made by the authors are practical, am the explanations are clear. The short time spent reading “Heart Talk” is definitely worth the knowledge gained, and a cardiac patient may find it informative.
About the Reviewer: Sharon Lister, OTI/L is an occupational therapist practicing in physical disabilities in an acute care hospital outside Philadelphia. She holds a BA in the biological basis of behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in occupational therapy from Thomas Jefferson University.

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