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Authors > Douglas P. Zipes, MD

“Dr. Braunwald goes through the literature virtually every day and adds new information to our web site to keep it up-to-date. I don’t know of any other book that’s updated weekly as Heart Disease is. It’s very much a living textbook.” – Douglas P. Zipes, MD

Dr. Zipes: Medicine from the Start

I wanted to be a doctor since I could walk. I never entertained any other thought. I never went through firemen or policemen stages. It was always clearly medicine. The type of medicine I would practice was very up in the air. I was going to be a brain surgeon, a heart surgeon, a general practitioner in a rural town. I went through all those phases. But during my training at Duke, they opened the first coronary care unit in the South. I was one of the first house officers to rotate on that coronary care unit and it was there that I just fell in love with cardiology. Prior to that I thought I wanted to be a nephrologist. I had a fellowship lined up for nephrology, but then I rotated through the CCU, and said “Uh-uh, I have to be a cardiologist”— and not only a cardiologist, but someone interested in the squiggly lines of the electriocardiogram. So, I became an electrophysiologist. 

Dr. Braunwald’s High Standards

After Dr. Braunwald published the first edition of Braunwald’s Heart Disease, he asked me to critique the arrhythmic section, which I did. Then he said, “I’d like you to write it”, so I wrote almost 10 percent of the second edition of his textbook — 200 pages of cardiac arrhythmias and electrophysiology as a single author. It took me a year. I’ve been writing the arrhythmia section, now with co-authors, since the second edition. For the sixth edition, Dr. Braunwald called me and asked me to serve with Dr. Libby as a co-editor. It was an incredible phone call to be invited to serve with him on this textbook. Working with Drs. Mann, Bonow, and Libby has been a wonderful journey. Dr. Braunwald is unique among men. Dr. Braunwald is a giant: his insights, his persona. His standards were not to leave one stone unturned, not just in the writing, editing, and critiquing, but in the actual publishing mechanics and interaction with the publisher to make certain everything is just right.

Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Living Text

I’m involved with multiple textbooks, but none have the planning, the thought, the vetting, and the insights that Braunwald’s Heart Disease does. To prepare for each edition, we take a very intense two- or three-day retreat and we go through the entire textbook chapter by chapter, almost page by page. We decide which of the chapters have served their function and need to be shelved and what new chapters we should include. We talk extensively about who the best authors might be. After the chapters are selected, authors are invited. Once the authors send the chapters in, we edit them extensively, and we cross reference with each other to be certain that no single figure is duplicated to avoid redundancy and excess pages. We make certain that we don’t contradict ourselves in different chapters, where one chapter might say to treat heart failure one way and another chapter on electrophysiology and heart failure might say to treat it a different way. We try to be certain that there’s consistency throughout the entire book. Then, when the book is published, it’s a living textbook. Dr. Braunwald goes through the literature virtually every day and adds new information to our website to keep it up-to-date. I don’t know of any other book that’s updated weekly, as Heart Disease is. It’s very much a living textbook.


Douglas P. Zipes, MD serves as a Distinguished Professor at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University. He has also held other positions at Indiana University including Professor of Medicine, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology in 1994, and Director of the Cardiology Division at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology.

Dr. Zipes received his B.A. cum laude from Dartmouth College, his M.D. cum laude from Harvard Medical School, and his postgraduate training at Duke University Medical Center. A past chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine, he is the past president of several professional organizations, including the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, the Association of University Cardiologists, the Heart Rhythm Society, and the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Zipes is a specialist on the research and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias and led the team that developed the very first implantable cardioverter. He pioneered an alcohol ablation catheterization technique which cures some arrhythmias and is a specialist in many arrhythmia areas including sudden death.

Dr. Zipes has authored over 800 articles and 24 textbooks, including Clinical Arrhythmology and ElectrophysiologyCardiac Electrophysiology: From Cell to BedsideElectrocardiography of Arrhythmias and Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine.  He writes a regular column for the Saturday Evening Post called Heart Health: Ask Dr. Zipes. He is an author of a short story serialized in the Saturday Evening Post called Stolen Hearts; a travel story, Into Africa; and a medical thriller novel, The Black Widows.

Related Authors: Mithilesh Kumar Das, MDZiad Issa, MD; Robert O. Bonow, MD; Douglas L. Mann, MD, FACC; Peter Libby, MD; Eugene Braunwald, MD