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Book and Media Reviews
July 12, 2006

Heart Attack

JAMA. 2006;296(2):223-228. doi:10.1001/jama.296.2.227-a

William O’Rourke's On Having a Heart Attack is a must-read for practicing physicians, cardiologists, nurses, physician assistants, and the general public. The book gives a vivid account of what a person goes through when experiencing a myocardial infarction.

The author, who is a professor of writing and English, describes his personal journey, from the day of his heart attack at age 45 years in 1991, while attending a Notre Dame football game, through his coronary artery bypass operation and recovery. The absorbing narrative makes the book difficult to put down. Dr O’Rourke tells of the highs, the lows, the fears, and what is important in one's life when faced with a situation of this magnitude. Perhaps the book's most important qualities are that it is a personal account, has elements of humor, and is informative. The book also features a medical glossary and selected bibliography.