How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner
How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner

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Thousands of people make an early exit each year and arrive on medical examiner Jan Garavaglia¡¯s table. What is particularly sad about this is that many of these deaths could easily have been prevented. Although Dr. Garavaglia, or Dr. G, as she¡¯s known to many, could not tell these individuals how to avoid their fates, we can benefit from her experience and profound insight into the choices we make each day.

In How Not to Die, Dr. G acts as a medical detective to identify the often-unintentional ways we harm our bodies, then shows us how to use that information to live better and smarter. She provides startling tips on how to make wise choices so that we don¡¯t have to see her, or someone like her, for a good, long time.

? In ¡°Highway to the Morgue,¡± we learn the one commonsense safety tip that can prevent deadly accidents¡ªand the reason you should never drive with the windows half open
? ¡°Code Blue¡± teaches us how to increase our chances of leaving the hospital alive¡ªand how to insist that everyone caring for you practice the easiest hygiene method around
? ¡°Everyday Dangers¡± informs us why neat freaks live longer¡ªand the best ways to stay safe in a car during a lightning storm

Using anecdotes from her cases and a liberal dose of humor, Dr. G gives us her prescription for living a healthier, better, longer life¡ªand unlike many doctors¡¯ orders, this one is surprisingly easy to follow.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • A real page turner
    Surprisingly enough, this book is a real page turner. I enjoy Dr. G's TV show, so when I saw her book I had to get it. It is a very interesting and informative read, with sound advice on so many topics. Her respect for the deceased and their family is so profound one wishes that some of her colleagues who treat the living would follow her lead. Dr. G.'s book is full of common sense and at times, borders on the spiritual. Her lively, down to earth personality comes through on every page....more info
  • Dr. G's book: Better read than dead!
    Dr. G, as I can tell from her TV show, is a font of wisdom, knowledge, and gentle goofy humor, so when her book came out, I did not hesitate to read it. There, beautifully executed (no pun intended unlike Dr G's numerous puns), is Dr. G's advice on how not to end up on her examining table. Her advice is demonstrated though autopsy descriptions, personal anecdotes, medical studies and more.

    The book is designed for a lay (no pun intended!) audience, as explains even the simplest and commonist medical terms. Some many find it annoying to have terms like "blood glucose" and "mechanical leg compression devices" explained to them, but Dr. G is not being condescending--she's just being nice. After Mr. Rogers died, I think Dr. G was the soul title-holder for nicest person on the planet. If you read nothing else in her book, I recommend her epilogue, which sums up the major ways of how not to die, and chapter 12, Longevity Rx. Longevity Rx provides much needed reminders and examples on how to "laugh yourself healthy," "cultivate gratefulness," "reconnect with nature," and more.

    Many will argue that the advice in this book is just common sense (don't smoke, wear your seatbelt, don't abuse alcohol), so why bother to read it? Thousands of people end up in Dr G's morgue each year, so obviously somebody needs to read it! I think young people should read her book most of all, before they start (or ASAP after they start) smoking, drinking, abusing drugs, driving without seatbelts etc. I'd like to see this book in every high school library and given as graduation gifts.

    As a middle-aged adult with an advanced degree in the health sciences and avid viewer, I already knew just about everything in this book, other than Dr's personal stories. However, I'm glad I read it and am happy to have the reminders. There's nothing like sitting on an airplane and thinking about deep vein thrombosis and that clot travelling up to the lungs to make you get up and walk down the aisle. Plus, it takes one's mind off the plane crashing. :-)

    If Dr. G decides to do a second edition, I think the book would greatly benefit from photos--not of the dead, but of their organs. I think nothing would hit home on the "don't smoke" advice more than seeing a pair of blackened smokers lungs next to a picture of healthy pink lungs. Seeing a picture of the gnarly green and yellow liver side-by-side with a healthy liver would really drive home the moderation with alcohol message.
    A note to viewers of Dr. G's show: If you haven't seen all the episodes, this book contains spoilers, as there is material from many of these episodes verbatim from the TV show. Conversely, if you have seen all the episodes, some of the book will feel like re-runs, as a previous viewer said.

    One quibble with the book, but not enough to subtract a star: In her discussion on getting enough dietary calcium, the only food source she mentions is fortified dairy products. It is a fallacy beyond the scope of this review that dairy products improve bone density. I think any second addition should discuss that and recommend plant sources of calcium such as kale, broccoli, almonds, and sesame seeds.

    Overall, this book is a quick (for 250 pages) and easy read that should be read by everyone, particularly young people and people who rarely go to the doctor.

    P.S. Dr. G mentions that they have music playing in the morgue when they do autopsies. I got a picture in my head of them doing autopsies to the 1977 hit song "Stayin' Alive." :-D...more info
  • How not to die
    Hi, I live in Australia and ordered this book through amazon.This book was a great read very light hearted and well written. Dr G has done a great job would recommend to everyone....more info
  • Great Book!
    This book is very informative and interesting. Dr. G keeps you the reader very entertained throughout the book. I highly recommend this book!...more info
  • Great read

    I enjoyed reading this book. Even picked up a few helpful pointers as to how to keep safe....more info
  • How not to Die
    I am just getting into this book. It is very interesting. I am a Nurse and Dr. G is still teaching me things. I just love her. She is so down to earth. This book is easy to understand, and is a good book for a layman to understand. ...more info
  • disappointing, but still a worthwhile book
    I couldn't wait to read this book, but it left me disappointed, like tuning in to Dr. G's show only to find out it's a rerun! It is a good read and well written in Dr. G's caring candid no nonsense easy to understand style, but for me it fell short of my expectations. All the cases she describes in the book are ones from her TV show, so if you are a regular viewer, a good part of the book will be like watching those episodes again.

    The advice she gives on healthy living is sage and sound, but it is things most all of us already know: i.e. exercise, eat healthy, see your doctor regularly, don't smoke, do drugs, drink & drive etc. Of course, maybe someone will actually listen to Dr. G, so the book will undoubtedly do some people a lot of good! Nonetheless, if you're a Dr. G fan, buy the book anyhow and it would probably be fascinating for someone interested in forensics who does not watch her show since all the cases she describes would be "new" to them. Don't get me wrong, I love Dr. G and her heart is in the right place! I really hope her book helps people to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle and or to seek out the considerable resources she gives for help with specific lifestyle and health problems. ...more info
  • How Not To Die by Dr. G
    As a former EMT-Paramedic for 20 years, Dr. G, gives lessons we all could learn. Learning from these tragedies she sees everyday from driving around with your car windows down, to double checking your prescriptions can and has proved fatal for some. This is a must read for every household!!!

    bstsisy...more info
  • Informative
    Dr. G use's her broad experience as a forensic pathologist to educate the living on what she has learned from the dead, with each chapter focusing on a specific health concern. Some of the advice she gives the reader includes: choosing the right doctor, the hazards of obesity, and the dangers of the road, and she has a few stories to accompany her advice on living healthier. She also explains how many of the deaths could have been prevented.

    A lot of the advice here you have already heard before, such as the problems caused by smoking cigarettes and alcohol abuse, but Dr. G keeps things interesting with her anecdotes from the morgue. There is a lot to be learned from this book, as it will give you a greater awareness of your own mortality. As Dr. G says: death is inevitable, but there is no need to help it along. ...more info
  • Excellent
    This is the best book I have read in a long time. I am a great fan of Dr. G. ...more info
  • Add Good Years to Your Life
    I watch so little television that I was completely unaware of "Dr. G's" Discovery Health channel program before I began to read "How Not to Die." The book's title, though, caught my eye and, when I read that Jan Garavaglia is a chief medical examiner in Florida who "presides over" some 1,100 autopsies every year, I was hooked. I figured there could be no one more qualified to offer advice on extending one's life than someone like Garavaglia who is intimately familiar with the unnecessary failings of the human body.

    Granted, much of what Garavaglia offers is common sense advice that we have all heard before, but the doctor's approach of illustrating her points with shared personal and work experiences makes what she has to say memorable - if not entirely new. "How Not to Die" is divided into chapters on all of the usual suspects when it comes to causes of early death: fear of seeing a doctor, adverse reactions to prescription medicine, auto accidents, medical mistakes, obesity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, and general accidents.

    Dr. Garavaglia uses a conversational tone, one that her television fans are likely to recognize, to make her points but most chapters also include a summary table or two to restate all the main points. I used the tables both to reinforce Garavaglia's most important thoughts and to make sure that I had not missed anything in my reading. For example, the book includes a three-page table titled "Don't Ignore These Symptoms" listing some twenty-three symptoms for which a person should always seek medical attention, a particularly helpful table for men who tend to "tough it out" rather than see a doctor until things become even more serious for them.

    Part of the fun in reading a book like "How Not to Die" comes from the surprising statistics and facts the books often include, and "How Not to Die" does not disappoint in that regard. Consider these examples:

    ¡€ Between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die every year from medical errors, more than from car wrecks, AIDS or breast cancer
    ¡€ Over 65% of all traffic accidents happen at or near intersections
    ¡€ Heart attacks are the biggest killer of travelers and the attacks usually come during the first two days of a vacation
    ¡€ Vacations generally extend a person's life expectancy; men who take frequent vacations are 30% less likely to die of heart disease and women are 50% less likely to do so
    ¡€ Heart attack victims who also suffer depression are four times more likely to die within six months of their attacks than victims not suffering from depression

    "How Not to Die" is perfect for those needing a little extra motivation to get them started on the kind of lifestyle that will allow them to remain active well into their eighties and beyond. It is all pretty simple, really, and Dr. Garavaglia even makes it sound like fun.
    ...more info
  • Good, but not great
    The book is matter of fact, but not very helpful. It does give you several of her case studies (which you can see on her Dr. G show on Discovery channel) and then at the very end she talks about her steps to stay alive longer and its all common sense. I was so disappointed because I love her show and expected it to be helpful and it fell short.

    I am glad I didn't buy the book but got it from the library instead. ...more info
  • Great Book
    This book is a no nonsense manual. I loved reading the material presented in the book. It was fantastic !!!...more info
  • Thoughtful, well meaning, a sincere and useful attempt to help the still living prolong their own lives.
    Previous reviewers have stated a number of different things about this book. Personally I would have liked to have seem a little greater depth in some areas. However I am a little biased. The book is clearly written to reach the general public, the majority of which is NOT medically trained, never having attended medical or nursing school, or having been a medic in the military. Nonetheless it should not be overlooked that what Dr G did attempt to do with this book is extremely important. Early in her book she explained herself that one of the reasons she became a medical examiner was because she had become frustrated by living patients she had seen in medical practice who continued to neglect their health despite sound medical recommendations made for their own good. Sadly for some the only way to reach them is to point out that if they do NOT take better care of their health death oftentimes become the inevitable result. True, Dr G makes a number of common sense recommendations a lot of us are already familiar with but do we follow them? It strikes me how much she cares for the families of the deceased. I lost my own father in August of 2007 from aortic stenosis, in part a condition that could have been prevented with better diet and exercise. It was a devastating loss, one for which a great deal of healing was required. Like Dr G, I am a Catholic and believe as she does that there's a heaven and a hell. I appreciate her stating explictly in her Introduction to her book that "I don't believe that we go through this world just to end up on a slab. You can look at the faces of the dead and you know something is missing. It's the soul and it has departed from the body." Coming from a medical examiner who has worked with hundreds of dead "patients", making incisions into countless bodies, removing numerous organs for measurement, studying a myriad of cells through slides, this was especially meaningful to be informed. I think that rather than being critical of Dr G's work we should appreciate its timely appearance in an era where fast food and fast living continue to remain the standard....more info
  • Good information
    Dr. G's long experience with autopsies, looking at the real "guts" of what makes people die, translates into good information on what not to do if you want to live as long and healthfully as possible. We're making lifestyle changes based on some of her findings....more info


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