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Brian Pentecost

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 17 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1317
  1. Anne Gulland, London
  1. annecgulland{at}

Introduced specialist coronary care and formalised the training of junior doctors

Brian Pentecost became a consultant cardiologist at the age of just 32, at a time when cardiology was a relatively young specialty. Patients who had heart attacks were treated on general medical wards—rather than in specialist coronary units—and there was little in the way of drugs and treatment: it was simply watch and wait.

At the time of his appointment at Birmingham General Hospital in 1965, coronary care units were a relatively new innovation—the first ones were set up in the late 1950s and early 60s—but Pentecost realised the potential of bringing together specialist units and research. He set up one of the first coronary care units in a side room in a district general hospital, eventually persuading the hospital authorities to provide him with a proper ward, with about six beds.

Birmingham had a world class diabetes research team, and Pentecost carried out research looking at the effects of heart attacks on diabetes patients. He also undertook studies on mortality outcomes and potential treatments for patients with myocardial infarctions—such as thrombolysis, and the enzyme streptokinase.

Pentecost was an early …

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