When Paul Dudley White, Class of 1911, was called in to consult on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s medical condition after the president’s heart attack, he recommended something that was not, in 1955, the standard of care: exercise.
White knew his business when it came to preventing cardiac disease and caring for heart patients. He began his career at Massachusetts General Hospital in the early 1900s, when cardiology was in its infancy. He was one of the founders of the American Heart Association; he authored Heart Disease, the seminal text for the discipline; and, as early as the 1920s, he spoke and wrote about the health benefits of physical activity. His contributions to the field led to White’s being regarded as the father of cardiology.
White was an early and strong believer in preventing disease by promoting what is now widely accepted medical advice: eat and drink alcohol in moderation, eschew cigarette smoking, and exercise daily. White himself was an avid cyclist whose legacy includes the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path, a 17-mile loop around the Charles River in Boston.