Meet Dr. K. Peter Rentrop

Scientific Contributions

Dr. K. Peter Rentrop has global recognition due to ground breaking contributions to the understanding and treatment of coronary artery disease. His work changed the treatment of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and added to the understanding of collateral flow in the heart (see: “Rentrop Coronary Collateral Classification“). He holds patents for his contributions in the development of a laser catheter, widely used in treatment of blockages in the coronary arteries as well as the arteries of the leg. He has contributed to the development of Nuclear Cardiology from its inception and is a Founding Member of American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

Making History

Prior to Dr. Rentrop’s work in 1978, the treatment of AMI was restricted to alleviation of pain and control of fatal heart rhythm disturbances. The era of salvaging heart muscle jeopardized by lack of blood flow began in 1978, when Dr. Rentrop first reopened occluded coronary arteries mechanically using guidewires and special catheters and in 1979, when he demonstrated that infusion of streptokinase directly into the occluded coronary arteries of patients with AMI dissolved the obstructing blood clot. Modern reperfusion therapy, which is based on these reports, has reduced the likelihood of dying from a heart attack from approximately 15% to 5%.

Slideshow on Reperfusion Therapy for AMI

First Coronary Artery Recanalizations in AMI

The video is an excerpt of a film shown at the Annual Meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, November of 1979, demonstrating the first coronary artery recanalizations in acute myocardial infarction by primary Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCI) alone and combined with intracoronary thrombolysis. (Annotations and audio added)

CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH, 2002; 56 (3): 332-338.

Personal Reflections on Efforts to Reduce Ischemic Myocardial Damage

Eugene Braunwald MD

Leading cardiologist Eugene Braunwald MD, editor of the premier cardiology textbook, Braunwald’s Heart Disease, reflects on Dr. Rentrop’s contributions to the modern era of AMI treatment. He calls Dr. Rentrop’s 1978 report of the first mechanical reopening of coronary arteries occluded by an acute coronary thrombus, the “seminal paper” in the development of primary percutaneous intervention (PCI).

EUROPEAN HEART JOURNAL, 2012; 33 (7): 838-845.

The Rise of Cardiovascular Medicine

Eugene Braunwald MD

Dr. Braunwald also reviews the development of thrombolytic therapy in AMI. He writes that Dr. Yevgeniy Chazov introduced this treatment to the Soviet Union with his report on intracoronary infusion of streptokinase. However, as Dr. Braunwald notes, this case report, written in Russian, “was not translated and had little impact outside the Soviet Union.” Rentrop et al, who independently developed reperfusion of the ischemic myocardium by infusion of streptokinase directly into the thrombotically occluded coronary artery in an effort to limit infarct size, “introduced this treatment to the rest of the world.”

EUROPEAN HEART JOURNAL 2010; 31(22): 2699-2700.


Pioneers in Cardiology

Klaus Peter Rentrop, MD, FACC, FACP, known for his pioneering streptokinase reperfusion therapy in acute myocardial infarction. An excerpt from the journal reads: “The first-ever study to clarify the pathogenetic role of coronary thrombosis and spasm was conducted by Rentrop from 1979 to 1980. An intracoronary bolus of nitroglycerin was followed by selective intracoronary infusion of streptokinase in 62 patients with AMI and 10 with pre-infarction angina. Fibrinolysis turned out to be the decisive factor in achieving re-flow.”


Hurst’s The Heart

Textbook Chapter 63 “Mechanical Interventions In Acute Myocardial Infarction” states: “the modern era of reperfusion therapy was born” in 1979, when Rentrop reported the results of the first mechanical recanalizations of acute coronary occlusions and selective catheter infusions of intracoronary streptokinase at the American Heart Association Meetings.

His work is still presented to cardiology students today.

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