Litvak Anti-War Activist, Cardiologist Bernard Lown Dead at 99

Litvak Anti-War Activist, Cardiologist Bernard Lown Dead at 99


BOSTON (AP)–Dr. Bernard Lown, the Massachusetts cardiologist who invented the first reliable heart defibrillator and later co-founded an anti-nuclear war group who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, died Tuesday at the age of 99.

The Boston Globe reported the Lithuanian-born doctor’s health had been declining from congestive heart failure. He died at his home near Boston.

Lown was a professor at Harvard College and physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He advanced cardiac treatment.

He was one of the first doctors to emphasize diet and exercise in treating heart disease, and introduced the drug lidocaine as a treatment for arrhythmia, the Globe reports. In 1962 Lown invented the direct-current defibrillator, or cardioverter, which uses electric shocks to get the heart to resume beating.

He was also an outspoken social activist, founding Physicians for Social Responsibility in 1960 and later co-founding International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in the 1980s, the newspaper reports.

The international anti-war group called for a moratorium on testing and building nuclear weapons. They were awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about the consequences of nuclear war during the height of Cold War tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. At its peak the group had more than 200,000 members and chapters in more than 60 countries.

Full obituary here.