With important changes unfolding regarding health care and payments to physicians, innovation in cardiology and medicine must not be relegated to a position of less importance, Vetrovec said.
Although dedicated to his patients and contributing to the body of
research involving angioplasty, George Vetrovec, MD, brings balance to
his life by spending time with his family and pursuing his interest of
Vetrovec, a native of Ohio, has spent most of his life in Virginia,
where he received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of
Virginia. For 35 years, Vetrovec has been on the faculty of Virginia
Commonwealth University (VCU), where he achieved the rank of full professor in
1986. He has served as chairman of the division of cardiology for 18 years,
associate chairman of medicine for clinical affairs for 24 years and director
of the adult cardiac catheterization laboratory, which is ongoing.
George Vetrovec, MD
Faculty member of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
Chairman of the division of cardiology and Director of the adult
cardiac catheterization laboratory at VCU.
Best Doctors in the United States list published by Woodward/White
Inc., for more than 15 years.
Member, Intervention section of Cardiology
Todays Editorial Board.
Currently, Vetrovec also serves as a consultant to the FDA New
Cardiovascular Devices Panel and is an immediate past member of the
subspecialty board on CVD of the American Board of Internal Medicine. His
scholarly interests include improving the management of CAD, particularly
related to catheterization and interventional techniques.
Additionally, Vetrovec has written or co-written more than 300 papers,
eight book chapters and edited two texts on interventional cardiology. Among
his awards and recognitions include the National AHA Award of Merit in 1991 and
the first Richmond Golden Heart Award in 1997 and being on the Best Doctors in
the United States list published by Woodward/White Inc., for more than 15
What do you enjoy doing when youre not practicing medicine?
I mostly practice medicine, but I do
enjoy a couple other things. First, I like to travel. I usually attach it to
work travel but take a little extra time to see a place. Second, I like to take
pictures, as Im an amateur photographer, taking photographs mainly of
scenes of places where I walk. And the third thing is I enjoy playing with my
If you hadnt gone into cardiology or medicine, what would you
I would have gone into engineering.
Early in life, I was interested in mechanical, electrical things. I had a ham
radio license as a kid and built my own radios. I guess, then, its not
surprising I ended up in interventional cardiology.
What would you consider one of your biggest successes in your
That would be being a part of the
evolution of angioplasty. When I started, we only did caths, and it was early
in my career that we started doing angioplasty. Mike Kelly, MD, and I
did the first angioplasty at the VCU in 1979, less than 2 years after the first
one was done in the world. Seeing that evolution from where it started and
where it is today has just been a remarkable trip, and I like to think that
just through being involved in studies and publications about the procedure,
Ive in some small way contributed to the advancement.
What is the last book you read or music you purchased? Why, and what
did you think of it?
The last book I read was Outliers:
The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. I dont tend to read much
for fun, and what I do read is usually something that is knowledge-based rather
than novelistic. All of Gladwells books have been fun, in that they
explore why things happen from a different perspective. Outliers is
remarkable. It delves into how the little things about when youre born or
when you start school make a big difference about your probability of success.
The last CD I bought was Susan Boyles Christmas CD.
Whom do you most admire, and what would you ask that person if you
had 5 minutes with him/her?
That would be Larry King, who is
retiring from CNN in the next several months. I would like to interview him
regarding his most interesting interviews.
What is the best advice youve ever received?
My parents said to me, Dont
waste time, work hard and people will notice it. They got that point
across. Its carried me well.
Whom do you consider your mentor?
Ive had two mentors at VCU, both
former chairs of cardiology. One is Dave Richardson, MD, who actually
hired me as a student to work in his lab. The other, who ultimately went on to
be vice president of health affairs, was Hermes Kontos, MD, PhD, who
also worked in research at the time. My first papers were with those two. They
have each helped me along the way tremendously.
George Vetrovec, MD, pictured
here with his grandchildren.
Photo courtesy of: George Vetrovec,
What kind of diet and exercise regimen do you have?
Im not 100% sure we know the
right diet, but I tend to eat limited red meat mostly fish. I try to
keep calories controlled. But I do have the following rule: If Im in
Kansas City, I dont eat fish. I make exceptions for the area that
Im in. One of the things I find amazing is that if my patients find me in
a restaurant, they always want to see what Im eating.
Regarding exercise, I walk regularly on a treadmill.
What do you think will have the biggest influence on cardiology in
the next 10 years?
Health care reform and changes of
payment being all lumped together will probably have the greatest impact. I
hope that we find a way to do it without stifling innovation. Thats my
real concern from my standpoint of trying to advance what we have. I hope we
dont at some point say, Well, its as good as its going
to get because thats what we can predictably pay for. That worries
To overcome this, academic centers and industry have to work together.
Theres some confrontation at times developing, which is bad. We have to
work together, along with government agencies, to make this work.
What is your favorite travel destination?
Outside of the United States, Im
going to say Bangkok. The people are so nice there. Its described as
the country with a thousand smiles, and its true. Ive
had wonderful experiences there. Domestically, Id pick New York City.
Its just fun, so much to do.
What is your favorite restaurant?
[Before it recently closed] it was Panos and Pauls in Atlanta. It
was in a strip mall but had an old, 1890s sort of look and was a great place to
eat. Now, Id say my favorite restaurant is Tosca, an Italian restaurant
in Washington, D.C. by Brian Ellis