John Elefteriades, MD, is one of the leading heart surgeons in the United States. He performs all types of adult cardiac surgeries, including coronary artery bypass grafting and artificial heart implantation. He is director of the Aortic Institute at Yale New-Haven Hospital.
Dr. Elefteriades is a pioneer in the use of extreme cooling, or hypothermia, to allow surgeons to stop a patient's heart long enough to carry out cardiac surgery. Once the procedure is complete, the patient is warmed up and their heart is restarted with a defibrillator.
He’s a strong advocate of general screening to discover if people have aortic aneurysms, or bulges in the main artery connected to the heart. Left untreated, aortic aneurysms can lead to ruptures that cause death. “With aneurysm disease, the first symptom is death. Most people feel no pain. So it would be good to have a general screening test,” Dr. Elefteriades says.
At the Aortic Institute, one of the nation's largest facilities for treatment and study of the aorta, Dr. Elefteriades’ team has developed an “RNA Signature” blood test to detect aneurysm disease. This work is a step along the path to developing a general screening technique that’s affordable and accurate enough for widespread use.
Working with other researchers at Yale, he also has assembled a database of aneurysm disease cases, which enables the researchers to find patterns in patient populations. They already have discovered links between weightlifting and aneurysms. They also gathered evidence that allows physicians to decide when it’s necessary to perform surgery in order to prevent a cataclysmic event in patients with an aneurysm.
In addition to his work with aneurysms, Dr. Elefteriades is the author of a medical mystery/ethics fiction thriller called “Transplant,” which was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards as a best first novel. He also published a collection of inspirational patient stories entitled “Extraordinary Hearts: A Journey of Cardiac Medicine and the Human Spirit.”
Dr. Elefteriades has been named among the Best Doctors in America consistently for two decades. He is a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale School of Medicine.