March 14th, 2012

Angioplasty Pioneer Geoffrey Hartzler Dead at 65

Geoffrey Hartzler, a key figure in the development of interventional cardiology in the United States, has died from cancer at the age of 65. He was one of the first cardiologists to learn the technique of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) from its founder, Andreas Gruentzig. Hartzler then went on to perform the first angioplasty procedure at the Mayo Clinic in 1979.

In 1980 he established the interventional program at the Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, MO. Hartzler retired from clinical practice due to chronic back pain in 1995. Hartzler was renowned for training an entire generation of cardiologists in the then new technique, and helped to expand its clinical application and to develop improved catheters and balloons. Gregg Stone, who had a fellowship with Hartzler, told Heartwire:

Whereas Andreas Gruentzig was responsible for bringing angioplasty to the world, Geoff Hartzler was the single person most responsible for extending its application to the millions of patients who currently benefit each year from interventional cardiology. Whereas Andreas believed PTCA should be restricted to proximal focal lesions, Geoff was the pioneer who brought interventional cardiology (balloons only, no less) to patients with acute MI, multivessel and left main disease, chronic total occlusions, and much more.

Rick Lange recalls the early days of interventional cardiology and Hartzler’s key role in helping it grow:

David Hillis taught me to do PTCA when only 1 brand of guide catheter, 1 type of guide wire and 2 types of balloons were available… of which was the Hartzler balloon catheter. I attended Hartzler’s angioplasty course when it was only 1 of 2 offered in the U.S.  For 4 or 5 consecutive years afterwards, Geoff took one of our Parkland cath fellows into his PTCA program (which accepted 2 or 3 fellows/yr).  They were all superbly trained.

The following information is from the Kansas City Star: Funeral: 11:30 a.m. Friday in Greenwood Chapel, Fort Worth, TX. A memorial service will follow in Kansas City, on a date to be determined. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: 6- 8 p.m, Thursday at Greenwood Funeral Home. Memorials: In honor of his courageous battle against prostate cancer, gifts in Geoffrey’s memory can be sent to the Prostate Cancer Foundation at or the American Heart Association at


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