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High Altitude Medicine and Physiology. 3rd Edition.

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High Altitude Medicine and Physiology. 3rd Edition. M P Ward, J S Milledge, J B West. (Pp 434, hardback; £69.00). London: Arnold, 2000. 0 3407 5980 1

This is the third edition of the standard textbook on high altitude medicine. Although it is only five years since the second edition appeared, the book has been extensively revised to take into account the recent explosion of interest in high altitude medicine. As the authors mention in their preface to the third edition, there have been over 1500 publications since 1995 on altitude related topics. All the chapters in this edition have been updated to take into account these recent publications and additional sections on commercial activities at altitude have been added.

I was interested to receive this new edition because, by chance, the first edition of this book was the first medical textbook I ever bought. At the time I was a student planning a trip to the Himalayas and wanted to learn more about the aetiology of the life threatening forms of acute mountain sickness, high altitude pulmonary oedema, and high altitude cerebral oedema. The book provided an excellent overview of the subject and introduced me to other interesting topics. Comparing the first and third editions, it is interesting to note that relatively little advance has been made in terms of understanding the pathophysiology of high altitude pulmonary and/or cerebral oedema, despite their increasing importance given the greater numbers of individuals travelling to high altitude now compared with 20 years ago. Those advances which have been made are well summarised in the relevant chapters of the third edition.

High Altitude Medicine and Physiologyremains the standard textbook in its subject area. It is comprehensive and well referenced and yet remains eminently readable. This is not a handbook of emergency medicine for the use of doctors or mountaineers travelling to altitude, but a book which covers a much broader subject area. It should be on the bookshelves of all individuals interested in the effect of altitude on the human body.—IH