University of Minnesota

Pentti Rautaharju, MD, PhD

Born: 1932

Pentti Rautaharju, Finnish-American pioneer in electrocardiology as applied to epidemiology, was educated at the Helsinki Univ. School of Medicine and the Univ. of Minnesota (biophysics), and for years directed Epicore ECG analysis centers in Canada (Dalhousie and Univ. of Alberta) and the US (Wake Forest).

Rautaharju collaborated with Henry Blackburn, et. al. in development of the Minnesota Code for classifying ECGs in population studies and introduced electronic analog, then digital, recording and analysis of ECGs and pulse waves, at rest and effort, based on population data of the Seven Countries Study. His measurement and diagnostic systems are applied in US national health and nutrition surveys, NIH-sponsored large cohort studies and clinical trials having electrocardiographic markers or endpoints and represent the state of the art for such applications.

Many of these contributions are summarized in a major monograph written with Farida Rautaharju, Investigative Electrocardiology, to be published by Springer, London. His philosophy of ECG analysis is: “I prefer always using variables that are model-based, with a biological reason for the risk. Otherwise it is just a statistical hunting expedition. If you don’t have reasonable model-based variables, you will find meaningless ‘significant’ associations. When it has some sensible pathophysiological base, then it becomes interesting.” (HB)


Oral History with Henry Blackburn, February 19, 2001.

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