The Cardiovascular System
I just finished the book, which is published by Britannica Educational Publishing and edited by Kara Rogers.
It’s a little bit repetitive, but it’s really quite good. I knew a lot about the subject already, but this is my first textbook dealing specifically with this topic and there were a few places where I had ‘aha-moments’ and suddenly understood everything a lot better – I really enjoy reading books that give me such experiences.
I should point out that Khan Academy has a lot of good stuff on this subject, and the videos there go into a lot more detail than does the book – I haven’t seen all those videos, but I’ve seen enough of them to know that this is mostly good stuff. I should perhaps also point out that each link above is to a topic covered at Khan Academy, each with multiple videos of coverage. Wikipedia also has some stuff on this subject.
As an intro textbook to the subject I think the book is a decent choice, though the illustrations are somewhat lacking. All concepts are properly introduced and defined, and definitions will sometimes be repeated other places in the book (which is part of what makes it repetitive) so you don’t necessarily need to memorize everything to keep track of what’s going on. My main points of criticism would be the unnecessary amount of repetition and the fact that it doesn’t actually go into much detail. The latter point of criticism can however also be considered a plus if you don’t know very much about the subjects covered, and of course the somewhat superficial treatment of the material also means that this is by no means a hard textbook to read.
I found it hard to blog stuff from the book, because most of it is just definitions, ‘how does it all work?’, ‘what can go wrong and how does it go wrong?’, disease progression, treatment options, etc. Not a lot of numbers in there, or a lot of stuff that can easily be quoted ‘out of context’. But I figured I couldn’t blog the book without at least posting a few bits from the book, so below a few quotes (none of these are ‘old numbers’; the book was published in 2011):
“of those likely to die during the first two weeks after a major heart attack, nearly half will die within one hour of the onset of
“less than half of the persons who die from heart attacks each year in the United States survive long enough to reach the hospital.”
“While life expectancy following a heart transplant is difficult to predict, the average recipient will live 8 to 10 years.” […] The survival rate at one year is now about 84 percent and at three years about 77 percent.”
“The renal arteries deliver to the kidneys of a normal person at rest 1.2 litres (2.5 pints) of blood per minute, a volume equivalent to approximately one-quarter of the heart’s output. Thus, a volume of blood equal to all that found in the body of an adult human is processed by the kidneys once every four to five minutes.”
“In general, the rate of heartbeat varies inversely with the size of the animal. In elephants it averages 25 beats per minute, in canaries about 1,000. In humans the rate diminishes progressively from birth (when it averages 130) to adolescence but increases slightly in old age. The average adult rate is 70 beats at rest.”
A big part of the book is available at the link.
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