Pocket Books sent these four "Guides" subtitled "Clear, authoritative health information for your family" to me for my review. The editorial staff at the AMA, with Angela Perry, MD, as the overall Medical Editor produces these books, each with its own science writer and medical advisor. This system has produced a number of excellent patient reference books. The previous Pocket Guides, which are about 250 pages, include Emergency First Aid, Sports First Aid, and Back Pain. Large coffee table compendiums have included the AMA Family Medical Guide, AMA Encyclopedia of Medicine, and AMA’s Seven Weeks to Better Sex. While attending an AMA Science Reporters Conference in San Francisco, I was given the 750 page AMA Complete Guide to WOMEN'S HEALTH, which Dr Eleanor Rodgerson of our editorial board reviewed in September 1997. She felt it was the most comprehensive of the numerous volumes available.

Click here to buy this book.Christopher Winslow, MD, is the pulmonologist who edited the AMA Essential Guide to Asthma. This is a well written, easily readable, patient friendly book that gives numerous examples of asthma patients, their environment and infectious triggers for an attack, what may and should be done in order to facilitate a prompt understanding of the medical chain of events, and how best to handle the struggle for breath. Today asthma affects more than 5% of our population--14 million people in the US, up from 10 million in 1990, with one-third under age 18. This useful self-help includes a list of commonly asked questions about asthma, a glossary of terms, and a list of asthma organizations that can give further help and support.

Click here to buy this book.The AMA Essential Guide to Hypertension is also relevant because 25%, or 50 million, of American adults have high blood pressure that, if untreated, can shorten life by 10-20 years. The real service this book provides is explaining the lifestyle changes our patients must make regarding diet, weight, activity, and stress--topics which are difficult to fully explain in a brief office call or even by our professional staff. This guide also presents a popular approach to drug treatments, classifies the antihypertensives, and explains side effects to help our patients to become more knowledgeable and aware. Again we have a list of commonly asked questions about hypertension, a glossary of terms, and a list of resource organizations and web sites that can give further help and support.

Click here to buy this book.The AMA Essential Guide to Depression begins with a basic introduction to depression, including simulated case studies that show how a sad and fearful person, an old grouch, and a happy person can all suffer from depression, a disturbance in a mood that can sometimes cause dysfunctional behavior. This guide follows the format of the others--questions, a glossary, resource organizations, and web sites.

Click here to buy this book.The AMA Essential Guide to Menopause defines this normal condition with an excellent discussion of the benefits, drawbacks, and risks to hormone replacement therapy. This guide is in the same format as the others but apparently there are no support organizations. Anyone for an American Menopause Association? It might be confusing with yet another organization.

All of these "Patient Pocket References" can safely and comfortably be recommended to our patients and the price is right. The AMA used a popular press that allows the guides to be readily available on our bookseller's shelves. Mine are already in my exam rooms.

Del Meyer, MD