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Book Review

History of the Disorders of Cardiac Rhythm.

Carmeliet, Edward

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Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology: January 1999 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 173
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History of the Disorders of Cardiac Rhythm.Berndt Lüderitz. Futura Publishing Co., Inc., Armonk, N.Y. 1998, 171 pp. Price: $60.00.

The text to History of the Disorders of Cardiac Rhythm reads easily, is entertaining, and is at the same time highly instructive. The book contains 118 illustrations-some of a composite nature, the more recent in color-of documents, instruments, and photographs of famous anatomists, physiologists, and clinicians who played an important role in the development of pulse science. As you read, these scientists gradually become more than a name and change into real human beings. The reader is provided with information about their contributions, which is put into historical context and followed by a short biography. Highlights of historical developments are summarized in boxes emphasized by a color background.

Dr. Lüderitz has a feeling for putting details of the life or publications of scientists into perspective. We learn that B. Valentini published a Dissertatio Melico-Medica de pulsu in Miscellanea Curiosa et Fructifera in 1713, in which he produced a figure with schemes of the cardiac pulse as notes on a note-staff, indicating pitch and duration for diastole and systole. We are instructed that Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a piano sonata opus 81 with his own rhythmic disturbance set to music. A picture with Wolff, Parkinson, and White shows the triumvirate in the right order, in which they are remembered and cited. We learn that anatomical discoveries of the conduction system have been made in an order opposite to the pathway followed by the impulse, i.e., first the Purkinje network (J. E. Purkinje, 1845), then the Hiss bundle (W. Hiss, Jr., 1893), the atrioventricular node (L. Aschoff and S. Tawara, 1906), and only thereafter the sinus node (A. B. Keith and M. W. Flack, 1907).

History of the Disorders of Cardiac Rhythm was first published in German by Springer-Verlag, G.m.b.H. & Co. in 1993, then translated into English and published by Futura Publishing Co., Inc. in 1995, and is now in a second revised and updated version. The review of 171 pages contains five chapters. The first two relate to the historical development of rhythmology, and the pathogens and symptoms of rhythm disorders. The third chapter relates to diagnosis, and the last two chapters concern aspects of therapy, more specifically antiarrhythmic drugs and electrotherapy. The section on electrotherapy is the most updated, with references up to 1997.

History is not only a science in itself, it is part of the philosophy of life. The present is made up of a succession of past events and prepares for the future. This book is a successful accomplishment of historical writing in the specific field of electrophysiology. Its reading is highly recommended to cardiac electrophysiologists, in general, and more specifically to scientists involved in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, as well as to teachers at the preclinical and clinical level.

Edward Carmeliet

C.E.H.A.; University of Leuven; Leuven, Belgium

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.