A Strong and Steady Pulse: Stories from a Cardiologist (Hardcover)
A Strong and Steady Pulse: Stories from a Cardiologist provides an insider’s perspective on the field of cardiovascular medicine told through vignettes and insights drawn from Gregory D. Chapman’s three decades as a cardiologist and professor of medicine. In twenty-six bite-sized chapters based on real-life patients and experiences, Chapman provides an overview of contemporary cardiovascular diseases and treatments, illuminating the art and science of medical practice for lay audiences and professionals alike.
With A Strong and Steady Pulse, Chapman provides medical students and general readers with a better understanding of cardiac disease and its contributing factors in modern life, and he also provides insights on the diagnostic process, medical decision making, and patient care. Each chapter presents a patient and their initial appearance, described in clear detail as Chapman gently walks us through his evaluation and the steps he and his associates take to determine the underlying problem. Chapman’s stories are about real people dealing with life and death situations—including the physicians, nurses, medical students, and other team members who try to save lives in emergent, confusing conditions.
The sometimes hard-won solutions to these medical challenges combine new technology and cutting-edge research together with insights drawn from Chapman’s past experiences as an intern and resident in Manhattan during the AIDS epidemic, as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University in the 1990s, and in practice in Nashville, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama. Conditions addressed include the recognition and management of heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmia, valvular heart disease, cardiac transplantation, broken heart syndrome, hypertension, and the depression some people experience after a heart attack, as well as related topics like statin drugs, the Apple Watch ECG feature, and oral anticoagulants. Finally, the emergence of the COVID-19 virus and its disruption of normal hospital routines as the pandemic unfolded is addressed in an epilogue.
“In a series of vignettes from the charged arena of cutting-edge invasive cardiology, a practicing cardiologist reflects on clinical judgments, teaching moments, teamwork, and the guiding principle ‘do no harm.’ At the book's ‘heart’ are insights into the lives of patients. Readers learn the shorthand lingo of doctors, from the author's ill-considered reference to the ‘widow-maker artery’ to his ironic description of the ‘nocebo effect’ in reference to side effects following administration of a placebo. Although much of his clinical work centers on opening blocked arteries, Chapman also reports on his care for an elderly survivor of the notorious Tuskegee study (suffering from syphilitic heart valve) and a grieving mother with takotsubo cardiomyopathy (dysfunctional heart muscle). Words certainly matter: Chapman’s harsh DNR (do not resuscitate) gives way to AND (allow natural death). A man awaiting a heart transplant reflects, ‘For me to live, someone has to die.’ Along the way, readers encounter the misdiagnosed Eleanor Roosevelt (because she was famous), bank robber Willy ‘go for the money’ Sutton (because common diagnoses happen so commonly), and Gertrude Stei’'s new ‘lost generation’ (early AIDS victims). The clearly worded glossary ensures that this highly readable account is accessible to Chapman's intended audience. Recommended.”
“Educating, entertaining, and surprising. You will never look at your heart the same again.”
—T. K. Thorne, author of Last Chance for Justice
“Distinguished UAB cardiologist Dr. Gregory Chapman has a smooth conversational writing style, a good sense of humor and is himself obviously a person who has read widely and well. The book, a collection of 26 stories, is laced with literary references from Greek mythology to Huckleberry Finn.”
—Don Noble, Alabama Public Radio
“A Strong and Steady Pulse presents a collection of true-to-life anecdotes that will delight the health professional, medical aficionado, or anyone who loves a good story. Dr. Chapman manages to inform the fascinating clinical and scientific experiences of a life dedicated to cardiology with a compelling thread of humanity and good humor that renders this book both instructional and universal. At once entertaining and enlightening, reading A Strong and Steady Pulse will make you smarter and more human—a welcome, feel-good read with substance!”
—John W. Stewart III, president, the University of Montevallo
“Dr. Chapman, through his patients’ histories, shares his experiences and insights across three decades of caring for patients with cardiovascular disease. I highly recommend his well- written, easy-to-read narrative not only to health care providers and their students but also to patients. All will benefit from a better understanding of their care.”
—F. Andrew Gaffney, MD, professor of medicine, Vanderbilt University
“Can using cocaine cause a heart attack? Will indulging in an all-you-can- eat breakfast buffet result in a torn artery? Do we die from broken hearts? Greg Chapman answers all these questions in A Strong and Steady Pulse, a collection of vignettes about his years as a practicing cardiologist. Here, bits of medical knowledge are artfully woven into stories of real life. While patients’ lives hang in the balance, readers are transported into the center of the action in the emergency department or the hospital room. Whether you are a practitioner or a patient, you will not put this one down easily.”
—Rachel Waide, JD, Tupelo, Mississippi, attorney
“Dr. Chapman uses patient stories as a powerful teaching tool for cardiology concepts. More importantly, his stories remind us of the privilege and responsibility of caring for patients. It is a must read for all who care for patients, especially in the field of general medicine and cardiology.”
—Lisa Willett, MD, professor of medicine, vice chair for medical education, and director of Internal Medicine Residency Program, the University of Alabama at Birmingham
“Medicine is both an art and a science. These two realms merge regularly in our conversations and interactions with patients and their families, oftentimes when we least expect it. In this wonderful book of medical vignettes, Dr, Chapman, an interventional cardiologist, recounts poignant stories about his patients and his life that link the art and science of medicine, and in the end, generate wisdom that will be appreciated by patients and physicians alike.”
—Sumanth D. Prabhu, MD, professor of medicine, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Disease, University of Alabama at Birmingham
“Dr. Chapman provides readers with an inside view of medical practice in a way that shares the ‘science of medicine’ while personalizing the stories of the people living through serious medical conditions. Every scenario has an interesting twist with a medical response that is specific to the patient or is compared with others who have had similar experiences. These stories epitomize the art and science of medicine and why we respect individuals, like Dr. Chapman, who truly care about their patients. I recommend this book for aspiring health professionals as well as those who need to reach back to rediscover why they chose to serve in the health care field.”
—Martha Lavender, PhD, fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and member of the State of Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame
“A Strong and Steady Pulse is as instructive as it is fun to read. It wonderfully reflects Dr. Chapman’s wit and charm.”
—Marc G. Cribbs, MD, director of Alabama Adult Congenital Heart Program and director of the UAB Comprehensive Pregnancy and Heart Program