Gordon A. Ewy, MD

Gordon A. Ewy, MD

Dr. Gordon A. Ewy is professor emeritus of cardiology and director emeritus of the Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona 

College of Medicine. From 2002 to 2013, he occupied the Gordon A. Ewy, MD, Distinguished Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, a unique honor in that it is extremely rare for someone to occupy his own named chair. Dr. Ewy has been named a “CPR Giant” by the American Heart Association for his early research on defibrillators and defibrillation. For decades, he was listed as one of the best doctors in America.

A founding member of the UA section of cardiology, he and his colleagues helped the College of Medicine’s Cardiology and Cardiovascular Services to be ranked among the Best Hospitals in America for cardiovascular services by U.S. News and World Report. He served as chief of cardiology from 1991 to 2010.

Dr. Ewy is the co-author of four books and nearly numerous scientific publications that include original research contributions, reviews, book chapters and editorials, with more than 270 of these publications listed on the national PUBMED. His primary research focus has been in the field of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and he is active in a busy cardiology practice and as an educator.

As director of the Sarver Heart Center, Dr. Ewy led more than 170 physicians and scientists toward attaining a goal of a future free of heart disease, vascular disease and stroke via the academic principles of research, education and patient care. His success in developing resources for the center was acknowledged in 2010 when he received the Eugene G. Sander Endowed Faculty Fundraising Awardfrom the University of Arizona Foundation Board of Trustees.

He started the Resuscitation Research Group at the Sarver Heart Center that pioneered Chest-Compression-Only Resuscitation, a technique that has been shown to not only be easier to learn and perform than conventional CPR, but also to be more effective for out-of-hospital primary cardiac arrest.

Dr. Ewy’s research accomplishments include contributions in the areas of digoxin metabolism and the hemodynamic correlates of cardiovascular physical findings. Together with Frank I. Marcus, MD, he described the pharmacokinetics of digoxin in the elderly and in the obese, contributing to safer use of this cardiovascular drug. His long interest in clinical cardiology and clinical research led him to clarify the normal jugular venous pulsations and to describe the hemodynamic significance of the Hepatojugular Reflux (HJR), a term he changed to the more accurate “Abdominal Jugular Test.”

His interest in cardiovascular physical examination and teaching led Dr. Ewy to collaborate with Michael S. Gordon, MD, PhD, of The University of Miami, to develop the teaching material and multimedia computer-assisted instructional material that accompanies the teaching mannequin “Harvey.” The device named after their mentor during their fellowship at Georgetown University, W. Proctor Harvey, has been validated as an educational tool in a multi-medical school study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Ewy held a busy practice and consultative cardiology service at the University of Arizona Medical Center since its opening in 1971 until his retirement in 2013.

Dr. Ewy is dedicated to educating the public in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. He is convinced that lay individuals, medical students, residents, fellows and physicians in private practice need to keep up with the ever changing developments in cardiovascular medicine. To disseminate medical information among lay individuals, he established the Sarver Heart Center Newsletter, a free and regular publication, which explains basic concepts and addresses new research in cardiovascular medicine.  Dr. Ewy has organized and participated in countless Sarver Heart Center public education programs throughout Arizona. He is active in training medical students, residents, and fellows and has directed several post-graduate education programs for private practice community. In 2010, he collaborated on the production of a six-minute Chest-Compression-Only CPR Training video that went viral on YouTube.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Medical Doctorate from The University of Kansas where he graduated Alpha Omega Alpha (medical student honor society). He completed his internship and first-year medical residency at the Georgetown University Division of the District of Columbia General Hospital, a 1,400-bed indigent hospital. He spent his second year of residency and his cardiology fellowship training at Georgetown University and was on the faculty of Georgetown University School of Medicine for four years before coming to the then new University of Arizona College of Medicine in 1969. Certified in both Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, Dr. Ewy is a past member of the Cardiovascular Disease Sub-specialty Board of the American Board of Internal Medicine. In this position, he was one of only 10 cardiologists to write the American Board of Internal Medicine subspecialty examination for board certification and re-certification in cardiovascular disease.

After college, Dr. Ewy served as an Ensign and as a Lieutenant Junior Grade on active duty aboard the U.S.S. Begor APD 127. He is fond of pointing out that 40 percent of the population of his home town are physicians—his older brother Gene and himself. The “town” in western Kansas called “Brenham” consisted of a wheat elevator managed by his father, a filling station that his mother ran and one house. His oldest brother, Dale, an electronic engineer, built the world’s first sophisticated defibrillator tester, which Dr. Ewy used in his early defibrillation research. Unfortunately, neither had enough money to patent the device.

Dr. Ewy says his most important accomplishment was convincing Priscilla Ruth Welbon, whom he met while in the U.S. Navy, to marry him. They met when she was 18 and he 21 years of age. After three years of letter writing, they were engaged via a trans-Pacific telephone call.  Following his first year of medical school, she returned from overseas and they were married.  He says his next most important accomplishment was keeping her from divorcing him once he became “married” to his career. Says Dr. Ewy: “She has been an invaluable partner in my life and in my work, and to this day corrects spelling and edits every page that I publish!” They have two living children, Gordon Stuart and Mark Allen. They have three grandchildren.