Milestones on the Path to Curing Heart Disease

The Mount Sinai Hospital is one of the oldest medical and teaching institutions in the United States. Since its inception, we have been at the forefront of medicine. Milestones in heart research and care include:

David H. Adams, MD, Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Endowed Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and Program Director of the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center, wins the American Heart Association's 2009 Achievement in Cardiovascular Science and Medicine Award. Dr. Adams is a world renowned leader in the field of heart valve surgery and mitral valve reconstruction.

Samin K. Sharma, MD, Director of Interventional Cardiology and the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Professor of Cardiology, and Co-Director of the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute, receives the Governor's Award for Excellence for his outstanding achievements in the area of interventional cardiology in New York. Dr. Sharma is the No. 1 ranked interventional cardiologist in New York State, with the highest number of cases and an extremely low complication rate. 

Dr. Jonathan L. Halperin leads a major study that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of a new generation of anticoagulants in preventing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. The new treatment, xielagatran (ExantaR), is far less toxic than the traditional treatment, warfarin (CoumadinR), involves no interactions with other substances in the body, and obviates the need for frequent blood test monitoring and dosage adjustments. 

The work of a number of Mount Sinai investigators, including Drs. Michael Poon, Juan J. Badimon and Valentin Fuster, results in the development of a Rapamycin-coated stent, a breakthrough in the prevention of restenosis following cardiac catheterization. 

Drs. Zahi A. Fayad, Valentin Fuster and colleagues report the results of a pilot study for the black-blood MRI, a non-invasive imaging technique that causes blood to appear dark while vessel walls appear bright, allowing cardiologists to identify thickening of the artery wall, an indication of otherwise undetectable vulnerable plaque. While still experimental, this new tool already has been heralded as a breakthrough with the potential to pinpoint silent killers. 

Leading an international collaboration of investigators, Dr. Fuster reports the results of the largest clinical trial of heart attack survivors beyond hospital discharge, defining the best approach to preventing a second heart attack, stroke or death using clot-preventing medications. 

Dr. Mark B. Taubman and colleagues identify the proteins responsible for thrombosis and inflammation in the blood vessel wall that contribute to the problem of restenosis (re-narrowing of the vessel) following coronary angioplasty. 

The Molecular and Cellular Cardiology laboratories are established. In the same year, Dr. Jonathan L. Halperin directs a multicenter team of cardiologists in the largest clinical trial of antithrombotic therapy for prevention of stroke in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, a common cardiac rhythm disturbance. 

Dr. John A. Ambrose, then Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, discovers the relationship between complex angiographic lesion morphology and acute coronary events, dramatically altering the way patients are selected for angioplasty and bypass surgery. 

Dr. Martin E. Goldman is the first to utilize intra-operative transesophageal color-flow Doppler echocardiography to guide the hand of the cardiac surgeon in the operating room, allowing moment-to-moment decisions during heart valve repair and replacement. 

Dr. Fuster is recruited to serve as the Chief of Cardiology. In addition to establishing the first integrated experimental laboratories for cardiovascular research at Mount Sinai, Dr. Fuster reorganizes the clinical practices of the division and makes the cardiology fellowship training program among the most sought-after in the nation. 

Drs. James H. Chesebro and Valentin Fuster, then at the Mayo Clinic, follow five years of experimental studies with a clinical trial proving the value of aspirin to prevent coronary bypass grafts from closing. Rapidly adopted by cardiologists and surgeons the world over, the approach greatly improves the prognosis for patients undergoing this commonly performed operation. 

Dr. Louis E. Teichholz, who developed the formula still used to measure the pumping function of the left ventricle noninvasively, establishes the first echocardiography laboratory at Mount Sinai, using high-pitched sound waves to produce images of the heart. 

Dr. Richard Gorlin, who opened the era of surgical treatment of rheumatic heart disease by developing a formula to measure how severely patients' heart valves were blocked while working in Boston, is appointed Chairman of Mount Sinai's Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine. 

Dr. Simon Dack becomes the first editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and develops it over 25 years into one of the world's most prestigious medical journals. In 1988, the journal becomes the official Journal of the American College of Cardiology, with Dr. Dack remaining as editor-in-chief. 

Dr. Charles Friedberg, Dr. Master's successor, pioneers the use of direct current cardioversion for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, and authors one of the first standard textbooks of cardiology, Diseases of the Heart. 

Dr. Arthur M. Master, Mount Sinai's first Chief of Cardiology, develops the "Master Two-Step," the first successful standardized cardiac stress test. 

The study of heart disease is still in its infancy around the time of the First World War when Mount Sinai sets ups its electrocardiographic (EKG) laboratory under the direction of Dr. Bernard S. Oppenheimer. Dr. Oppenheimer later receives an American Medical Association gold medal for an exhibit describing the EKG work first done at Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai cardiologist Alfred E. Cohn becomes the first person in the United States to use an electrocardiogram machine.


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