BELMONT, CA – Richard Karl Myler, physician, educator, inventor, and pioneer of modern interventional cardiology, who performed the first coronary angioplasty done in a catheterization laboratory in the United States, died October 9, 2013 in Belmont. He was 77.
Dr. Myler grew up in Massachusetts, graduating from Classical High School of Springfield in 1953, where he excelled both in academics and athletics, especially swimming, at which he became state champion in the butterfly. He was high school class president for three consecutive years. He graduated Bachelor of Arts from Yale University
in three years, and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1960. Dr. Myler married Beatrice Byrd in 1960, and in 1961, his first son, Andrew, was born.
Dr. Myler completed internship and residency at San Francisco General Hospital and University of California Medical Center San Francisco, and was a National Institute of Health fellow in cardiology at UCSF and at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a teaching fellow at Harvard during the earliest days of heart catheterization. He attributed his early successes to superb training from renowned physician educators such as Paul Dudley White and Julius H. Comroe.
In 1966, at the age of 30, Dr. Myler was given the position of Chief of Cardiology at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA. His youthful exuberance at times belied his clinical expertise, and patients and colleagues alike responded to his warm and winning demeanor. He was president of the Massachusetts Heart Association and over the course of his career held fellowships and sat on the board of directors of numerous societies including the American Heart Association, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, and the Royal Society of Health. Dr. Myler published over 300 articles and abstracts in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, and the American Journal of Cardiology, as well as dozens of textbook chapters. Prior to his groundbreaking work in angioplasty, he designed and patented the Myler Lumen Electrode Coronary catheter.
In 1971, Dr. Myler married his second wife, Sharon Abdella (nee D'Alessandro), and with her son, James, and Andrew, moved to San Francisco to become Director of Cardiology at St. Mary's Hospital. Son, Joshua and his twin sister, Gillian were born in 1975.
In May of 1977, Dr. Myler and Dr. Andreas Gruentzig changed the course of modern medicine by ushering in the era of mechanical intervention in cardiology, performing the first coronary angioplasty in Zurich, Switzerland. In March of 1978, Dr. Myler performed the first coronary angioplasty in a catheterization lab in the U.S. He spent the following two decades teaching this now ubiquitous technique to thousands of cardiologists around the world. In 1982, he became a full Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF.
Also in 1982, Dr. Myler founded the San Francisco Heart Institute in association with Seton Medical Center, where angioplasty continued to develop, and set the groundwork for subsequent mechanical intervention techniques in coronary arteries.
Dr. Myler retired from clinical practice in 1996 and spent his remaining years with family in Carmel, California. He was preceded in death by his parents, Sayle and Sarah Myler (nee Saltzman) and is survived by his wife, Sharon; their four children, Andrew (Kathleen), James (Anneliese), Joshua, Gillian Kilroy (Brian); and six grandchildren and his sister, Susan Zapf (Erik) of Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the
of America at 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601-7633 and the SPCA for Monterey County at 1002 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Salinas, CA 93908.
"He never met a stranger."