Father of Preventive Cardiology, Dr. Lewis Kuller, dies at 88

Dr. Lewis Kuller who was a top epidemiologist of his time and a leading figure in preventive cardiology could trace his interest in the field to when he was a medical resident on the busy streets of Brooklyn in the early 1960s, responding by ambulance to emergency calls when people had died all of sudden of heart attacks at home or in the street.

Know more about him in the following lines.

Dr . Lewis Keller Legacy

Working from the Maimonides Hospital and routinely sent out on emergency calls, he has also noticed that most heart attack deaths happened outside the hospital.  “So we were going to the home and finding people dead, or in the street, but especially at home,” Dr. Kuller reported in an interview for a University of Minnesota project on heart attack prevention in  the year of 2002, “and secondarily we would often go to the home and find people sticking their head out the window in acute pulmonary edema.”  

The experience led him to a career of more than six decades in the field in which he studied the many risk factors related to cardiovascular disease through a breadth of clinical trials, much of that time as chairman of the epidemiology department at the prestigious  University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

“Lew was at the leading edge of what we need to think about next,” Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, former president of the American Heart Association, reported in a phone interview. “He really understood the humanity of public health.”  

Dr. Kuller died at the ripe old age of 88 on Oct. 25 in a Pittsburgh hospital. His son, Steven, said the death cause was pneumonia and congestive heart failure. In addition to his son, Dr. Kuller was also survived by his wife and long-time partner, Alice (Bisgaier) Kuller; his daughters, Gail Enda and Anne Kuller; and six more grandchildren.

Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial

In the 1970s and ’80s, Dr. Kuller worked as the chief investigator in the decade-long Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, colloquially which was known as  “Mr. Fit.” Involving nearly 15,000 men between the ages of 35 and 57, it also focused on reducing and lowering the deadly risks of heart disease through aggressive intervention by treating blood pressure and high cholesterol and counseling cigarette smokers.  

When researchers followed up with the men some years later, those who had received the special intervention had only a 7 percent lower rate of fatal heart disease than the men who had received medical care from their doctors. However, the combined fatal and nonfatal heart disease rate for those who received the special intervention was significantly less.

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Lewis Henry Kuller opened his eyes in Brooklyn on Jan. 9, 1934. His father, Meyer was the owner of a  pharmacy; his mother, Dora (Olener) Kuller, worked as a kindergarten teacher.

As for his education; he got his medical degree from George Washington University in 1959 and he got a master’s degree in public health in 1964 and a Ph.D. in the same subject in 1966.