Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Howard Wayne

Dr. Howard Wayne, the noninvasive cardiologist who saved me from a quintuple coronary artery bypass graft in May of 2004, passed away suddenly last week, three days before his 83rd birthday. Dr. Wayne ran the Noninvasive Heart Center in San Diego. I spoke to his wife of 37 years just minutes ago. This is a great loss to the hundreds of patients Dr. Wayne treated. Here is his Biography from his clinic's website:

Dr. Wayne obtained a combined M.D. and Masters degree in cardiovascular physiology at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest and received his training at the Cleveland Clinic. Early in his career, while on the Faculty of the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, the forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), he was challenged by the frequent occurrence of unexplained accidents involving high performance aircraft. In addition, criteria were being defined for the selection of future astronauts. (It wouldn't due for an astronaut to have a heart attack on the moon or halfway between Earth and Mars). Because the conventional cardiac evaluation, which is still used today, was so insensitive in the detection of heart disease, the thinking at that time was that supposedly healthy pilots were having heart attacks. Consequently, one of his early interests was to discover new ways of uncovering heart disease in pilots and future astronauts. This started him on a career long quest of an early warning system so that heart disease not only could be diagnosed but treated as early as possible.

With grant support from the American Heart Association, Dr. Wayne was successful in applying new methods to study heart function and to use these procedures to uncover heart disease long before traditional examination methods. Subsequently he wrote the first textbook on noninvasive cardiology in the early seventies. During the seventies and eighties Dr. Wayne set up scientific exhibits and gave lectures throughout the United States, Europe and Asia to teach other doctors about these new methods of examination. From 1975-1979 his scientific exhibits were displayed on multiple occasions at annual meetings of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Medical Association, the European College of Cardiology and the Asian Society of Cardiology. His scientific exhibit won the American Medical Association's first prize in 1975. In the process of detecting heart disease prior to the appearance of symptoms, he was able to discover more effective ways of treating coronary heart disease with medication.

The combination of early detection and treatment has been so successful that only eleven of his patients have had to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery or angioplasty in the past 22 years. In addition, heart attacks and premature death have become exceedingly rare in the patients who remain on a tailored medical program. Dr. Wayne feels strongly that heart disease need not be the number one killer it is today. With proper and early diagnosis with modern noninvasive tests, and appropriate treatment with up-to-date drugs, it can be turned into a benign disorder compatible with a good quality of life and a normal life span. Heroic procedures such as angioplasty and bypass surgery are only rarely necessary. Doctors who quickly urge patients to have these treatments as soon as symptoms appear may be more dangerous to the patient than their disease.


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