With sadness, we report the recent deaths of two major figures in the world of cardiology, Professors Lionel Opie and Desmond Julian. We pass on our sincere condolences to their families and relatives.
For UK healthcare professionals only
Professor Lionel Opie
Professor Lionel Opie, Professor of Medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, made unique contributions to heart science during his long career. He graduated in medicine from UCT and was a Rhodes scholar, studying at Oxford University and later at Harvard Medical School in the US.
He famously edited the textbook, Drugs for the Heart, with Professor Bernard Gersh. This invaluable book provided up-to-date information on every drug class used to treat cardiovascular disease. In more recent years he established the Cardiology at the Limit’s series of meetings, with Professor Derek Yellon, from UCL in London. These meetings fostered the exchange in science and medicine between the continents of Africa and Europe. In 2006, he was awarded the highest Presidential award in South Africa, the Order of Mapungubwe.
Professor Desmond Julian
Professor Desmond Julian was the first to propose coronary care units in the 1960s. His work, first published in The Lancet in 1961, transformed care for heart patients worldwide. Professor Julian saw the need for heart patients to be treated differently to general patients.
He believed that by having patients on a single specialist ward, continuously monitoring their heart rhythm, with defibrillators and trained staff on standby, this would improve survival. He set up Europe’s first Cardiac Care Unit in Edinburgh in 1964, and the British Heart Foundation – for which he was later medical director – funded the unit’s staff and equipment. In the first year of their programme, an additional seven out of 100 patients survived, when compared to a similar group of patients the year before. The rest of the world would soon follow his example.
We were honoured to have Professor Julian as a BJC editorial board member and he was a great friend to very many of us in cardiology.