History of Cardiology


Before 1900, very few people died of heart disease. Since then, heart disease has become the number one killer in the United States.

The age of technology has made life easier and made people more prone to heart disease. With the arrival of automation, life became less strenuous. Along with the change in lifestyle came a change in diet. The combination of a sedentary lifestyle and a rich diet led to an increase in clogged blood vessels, heart attacks, and strokes.

Heart disease became commonplace. The rate of heart disease increased so sharply between the 1940 and 1967 that the World Health Organization called it the world’s most serious epidemic.

Medical science immediately went to work studying the disease and searching out its causes and cures. Here is a time line of some of the major milestones in the history of Cardiology.

1628 William Harvey, an English Physician, first describes blood circulation.

1706 Raymond de Vieussens, a French anatomy professor, first describes the structure of the heart’s chambers and vessels.

1733 Stephen Hales, an English clergyman and scientist, first measures blood pressure.

1816 Rene T. H. Laennec, a French physician, invents the stethoscope.

1856 Rudolf von Koelliker and Heinrich Müller were the first to discover that the heart generated electricity.

1903 Willem Einthoven, a Dutch physiologist, develops the electrocardiograph.

1904 Felix Marchand introduced the term atherosclerosis and suggested that atherosclerosis was responsible for nearly all obstructive processes in the arteries.

1908 A.I. Ignatowski observed a possible relation between cholesterol-rich foods and experimental atherosclerosis.

1912 James B. Herrick, an American physician, first describes heart disease resulting from hardening of the arteries.

1912-1925: Cardiology becomes a public health and research effort, leading to the founding of the American Heart Association.

1927-1940: The electrocardiographic recognition of acute myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction

1938 Robert E. Gross, an American surgeon, performs first heart surgery.

1939-1948: The clinical introduction of anticoagulation: heparin and oral anticoagulants, including the first major clinical trial

1941 André Cournand and Dickinson Richards used the cardiac catheter as a diagnostic tool for the 1st time.

1950 John Gofman and his associates identified the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol using the ultracentrifuge technique. In addition, they found that 101 of 104 men with myocardial infarction had elevated LDL molecules

1951 Charles Hufnagel, an American surgeon, develops a plastic valve to repair an aortic valve.

1952 F. John Lewis, an American surgeon, performs first successful open heart surgery.

1953 The heart-lung machine, which offered additional protection to vital organs, was used by John Gibbon during the repair of an atrial septal defect and was a major advance in open-heart surgery.

1953 John H. Gibbon, an American surgeon, first uses a mechanical heart and blood purifier.

1956 Paul Zoll and coworkers performed the 1st successful external defibrillation in a human subject.

1961 J. R. Jude, an American cardiologist, leads a team performing the first external cardiac massage to restart a heart.

1962 The 1st atrioventricular (AV) synchronous pacemaker, which simulated a true physiologic state, was implanted.

1963-1972: Birth of the coronary care unit, and active rather than passive treatment of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

1964 Charles Dotter and Melvin Judkins described a new technique for relieving stenosis of the iliofemoral arteries with rigid dilators. Despite the fact that this technique was developed in Oregon, the procedure was largely ignored in the United States, however, this technique was used to treat large numbers of patients in Europe.

1965 Michael DeBakey and Adrian Kantrowitz, American surgeons, implant mechanical devices to help a diseased heart.

1967 René Favaloro achieved a physiologic approach in the surgical management of coronary artery disease—the bypass grafting procedure—at the Cleveland Clinic

1967 Christiaan Barnard, a South African surgeon, performs the first whole heart transplant from one person to another.

1974 Andreas Gruentzig substituted a balloon-tipped catheter for the rigid dilator and performed the 1st peripheral balloon angioplasty in a human.

1975-1985: The vasoconstrictor-volume understanding of hypertension, elucidation of the renin-angiotensin axis, and the clinical introduction of ACE inhibitors into medicine

1982 Willem DeVries, an American surgeon, implants a permanent artificial heart, designed by Robert Jarvik, an American physician, into a patient.

1986First coronary atherectomy.

1987 First coronary stenting.

1997 Angioplasty becomes one of the most common medical interventions in the world.