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John Rutherford, M.D. Answers Questions On Cardiology

John Rutherford, M.D. Answers Questions On: Cardiology

You’ve been a cardiologist for almost 40 years. How has the specialty changed?

When I started in 1975, diagnoses were primarily based on our meetings with the patients during their clinical exams. And so 95 percent of the time, after taking the history, examining the patient, looking at the chest X-ray and the EKG, I’d come up with a diagnosis.

In those days, we had coronary angiography and ventricular angiography and could measure pressures in the heart. We were in the very early days of echocardiograms. There were no CAT scans or MRIs. Since then, imaging has helped the field evolve tremendously.

What should patients look for in a cardiologist?

Patients can tell they’ve found the right doctor if he or she addresses their concerns, explains things clearly, and helps them have a better understanding of what’s going on and why.

In terms of cardiology care, what does UT Southwestern do well?

We do most things very well. UT Southwestern has great expertise in transplantation and in the treatment of heart failure and adult congenital heart disease. We treat complex cardiology problems as well as anyone in the region.

We also do preventive care well and have doctors and caregivers who focus solely on that. We help detect risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and abnormalities in blood pressure. We work hard to correct those things in the early stages, before they become a long-term problem.

What advances in cardiology care can patients look forward to?

There are major advances in nuclear medicine that can more effectively target diseases. Other advances are in cardiovascular imaging and interventional cardiology that will allow us to replace valves percutaneously, or through the skin. Also, cardiovascular assist devices will continue to get smaller, safer, and better.