Discoveries and Advancements

Andreas Gruentzig, MDEmory's heart program has earned worldwide recognition for innovative developments in heart disease diagnosis and treatment. In fact, Emory has consistently ranked among the top 20 in U.S. News and World Report's annual survey of America's Best Hospitals.

Emory's heart specialists literally wrote the book on cardiology — the medical textbook, The Heart, first published in 1967 — and built the foundation for cardiovascular care in Georgia by developing training programs that produce 85 percent of the practicing cardiologists and heart surgeons in the state.


Emory is known the world over for pioneering angioplasty, the less-invasive alternative to cardiac bypass surgery. The late Andreas Gruentzig, MD, renowned for developing coronary angioplasty and for performing the first human procedure in 1977, directed the angioplasty program at the Emory University School of Medicine from 1981 until his death in 1985. The Andreas Gruentizig Cardiovascular Center is now a major component of the Emory Heart and Vascular Center.

Learn about angioplasty.

Emory Angioplasty versus Surgery Trial (EAST)

Completion of the landmark EAST trial in November 1993 showed for the first time that percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is just as safe and effective as coronary bypass surgery, a proven therapy for advanced atherosclerotic heart disease. Many patients with multiple-vessel coronary artery disease whose arteries require revascularization (to unclog or partially replace arteries) are equally eligible for either PTCA or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), a therapy with proven clinical benefit.

Improved Heart Valve

Emory heart surgeon John Gott, MD, pioneered a solution to a troubling problem with heart valve replacements. He and his colleagues specially treat porcine valve replacements with an agent that slows the calcification process and delays the need for further replacements.

Patching Tiny Hearts

Robert Guyton, MD, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery and recognized as one of the nation's top surgeons, developed a revolutionary procedure to repair babies' hearts that incorporates a patch that grows along with the heart and which negates the need for additional surgery.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

Cardiologist Angel Leon, MD, an expert in electrophysiology, was a key investigator during a three year old clinical trial to evaluate the safety and cardiac resynchronization therapy in 200 patients. The implantable system proved to help patients dramatically who have moderate to severe heart failure and has been hailed as the first major therapeutic breakthrough for heart failure patients since the development of specialized heart failure drugs. Dr. Leon implanted the first Medtronic InSync cardiac resynchronization therapy system in a patient at Emory University Hospital Midtown, following FDA approval.

Closing Intracardiac Holes Without Major Surgery

In the past, many people with holes in their hearts have faced a lifetime of anticoagulant therapy or even open heart surgery in order to reduce their high risk of stroke. But now there's a new option for patients who have already experienced a thromboembolic event — a minimally invasive procedure using the CardioSEAL® Septal Occlusion System can now close a variety of intracardiac holes in about half an hour. Emory is the first and most experienced cardiovascular center in Georgia performing the CardioSEAL® procedure.