Book review

Br J Cardiol 2021;28(3) Leave a comment
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First published online 1st September 2021

Heart valve disease: a guide for patients
Author: John Chambers

Publisher: NSHI, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-907882-30-2 Price: £8.99
Order via the BHVS website:

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For healthcare professionals only

Heart valve disease: a guide for patients, by John Chambers

This authoritative guide to heart valve disease couldn’t have come at a better time. COVID-19’s catastrophic impact on the NHS leaves over four million people waiting to start hospital treatment. And according to some experts, heart valve disease is an epidemic just waiting to wreak similar havoc.

There is no vaccine or pill for heart valve disease and it’s not due to lifestyle. Misdiagnosed, ignored, or simply not heard of, it can be as fatal as some cancers. And because it affects mostly the over 60s – an ever-increasing, longer-living population – it could overwhelm the NHS.

The good news is that, diagnosed early, it’s usually easily treatable. And Professor Chambers, founder of the ‘gold standard’ specialist valve clinic, has written probably the most comprehensive layman’s guide on the dysfunction (it’s not a disease as such and it’s not infectious) to raise awareness of this danger lurking in our midst.

Heart valve disease crept up on me ‘out of the blue’ with sudden, violent palpitations. The weeks leading up to diagnosis were frightening. I needed surgery, probably open heart. I was truly stunned. Fortunately, my GP sent me to a specialist clinic dedicated to making heart valve disease – in all its forms – as easy for patients to grasp and manage as possible. From the first appointment I felt fully reassured and in safe hands. Which is precisely the effect of this book. It’s as good as access to a specialist clinic, 24/7.

It’s authoritative, yet eminently readable; everything you might need to know presented with lively pick-me-up, read-me-now appeal. Indexed, so you can get straight to your burning concern. Explained clearly in type that’s easy on the eye, with simple illustrations in bold colours.

This handy book should be the go-to resource for information about heart valve disease, available in every public library, doctor’s surgery and dentist’s waiting room. My GP, Dr James Edwards, put it straight onto the shelf next to his desk. “This will be my reference guide,” he said, “whenever a patient needs extra expert guidance.” (Voluntary organisations offering pre- and post-op support to patients will find it invaluable, too).

Endorsed by the British Heart Valve Society (BHVS), the organisation that exclusively supports through training, regulates and certifies the setting up of ‘gold standard’ clinics both in the community and in hospitals (and of which John Chambers is a founder member) its credentials could not be sounder.

Pat Khan
Cardiac patient