Dr Shahbudin Rahimtoola: In Memoriam of a Distinguished Cardiologist

Eminent cardiologist and scholar Dr Shahbudin Rahimtoola passed away recently on December 9th, 2018 at his residence in Palos Verdes Estates, California. He was popularly known globally for his contribution to two clinical syndromes namely ‘Hibernating Myocardium’ and ‘Prosthetic Value Mismatch’.

shabuddin_rahimtoola_-_oregon_1970sMumbai born Rahimtoola was alumnus of St. Xavier’s (Bombay) and later Dow Medical College (Karachi) remained a widely acclaimed Physician and Researcher during his long and illustrious career. He was serving as Distinguished Professor at the Keck School of Medicine and simultaneously George C. Griffith Professor of Cardiology at the University of Southern California.

Doctor Rahimtoola was recipient of several awards including Salute to Research (1985), Gifted Teacher (1986), James Herrick (1989), Melvin Marcus Memorial (1996), Master of College (1999), Distinguished Scientist (2001), Doctor of Science (2002), Gold Medal from European College of Cardiology (2009), Lifetime Achievement (2013) and Distinguished Fellowship (2016).  He was also closely associated with the Mayo Clinic and Foundation in the United States who honored him with ‘Distinguished Alumnus’ award in 1998.

Edward Crandall, Chairman of the Keck School’s Department of Medicine described Rahimtoola in the following words during 2013, ‘He is widely known and appreciated as a teacher and mentor and has been an important part of the USC division of cardiovascular medicine for many years.’


On the publication front Professor Rahimtoola remained editor at the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) during the 1990s. He also authored over twelve (12) text books in medicine and cardiology during his professional tenure and published over 513 scientific articles which included 120 book chapters, 316 original articles along with 67 editorials.

He is survived by his wife Shamim and three children all based in the United States.










Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

One thought

  1. Dr. Shahbudin Rahimtoola;
    I remember him as one of the best Clinical Cardiologists and a superb Cardiology teacher. I knew him well. We had met over the years at various cardiology conferences where he was often a senior speaker on many subjects and I was either just attending or had the opportunity to present my research work in Nuclear Cardiology.

    When Dr Rahimtoola had originally come to the United States — his first position was as Dr. Jeremy Swan’s cardiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic. Dr Swan (Swan – Ganz catheter named after him) then moved to be Head of Cardiology at UCLA -Cedars Sinai, considered one of the best in the world and has retained that status since.
    In 1982 Dr Rahimtoola became the Head Cardiology at University of Southern California (USC) across town in Los Angeles. Thus here were the 2 of them now “Giants” in Cardiology, heading the 2 Internationally acclaimed cardiology programs in the same city.

    At that time in 1982 — I was an AKF – International clinical & research Nuclear Cardiology fellow of Dr. Swan at UCLA Cedars Sinai.

    Dr Rahimtoola convinced me to leave UCLA and join him at USC 1982 – 1983 as his hand picked first cardiology fellow with full funding, which allowed me to return the 2 year AKF – Geneva funding, which I did.

    Dr. Rahimtoola was excellent at the bedside, with invasive cardiac procedures and had a superb analytical mind. Great writer of cardiology papers and research results. He was a tough task master from the old era of discipline, total commitment and hard work. That year I think I worked the hardest ever, but it led me became proficient at Invasive cardiac procedures, Echocardiography, Pacemaker therapy and ability to make bedside diagnosis without the use of tests. It was a challenging year for many of us in the USC program. He demanded nothing short of perfection. It was a major life stressing event when it was your turn to present at the Cardiology grand rounds where he sat right at the front and asked questions multiple times in the middle of your presentation and had no problem letting you and everyone in the conference room know what the deficiency was with your presentation or the answers to his questions. He made me a tough, persistent, meticulous, skillful, confident cardiologist. I got my cardiology certifications at the end of that academic year and left USC. I decided not to accept the academic position in the faculty that he had offered me.

    Since then he and Dr Swan provided references for me at all my major job positions in California, Canada, AKU and sponsored me for the various successful medical Fellowships at Canadian and US Colleges.

    In 1986 I was proud to be the referring sponsor for Dr. Rahimtoola for the award of “Gifted Teacher” by the American College of Cardiology (ACC). An award that he received at the ACC conference where I was also present.

    I was extremely privileged to be trained by 2 of the best, world renowned cardiology masters. Both very different personalities and differing approaches to teaching. They helped me develop my clinical, procedural, research skills and got me started on the path of proficient teaching presentations, which were all instrumental later on when I was Head of the Cardiology at AKU. These were the 2 people most responsible for my International career in cardiology and for a lot of the accomplishments.

    Dr. Rahimtoola too, (Like Dr. Swan and me) suffered from cardiac disease himself and had to have surgery. We often talked about it over the years when we met at conferences. We also shared the special, unspoken bond of both being Ismailis. I last saw him in March 2017, at the ACC conference in Washington, DC. We had a pleasant chat and smiled knowingly about many personal issues, challenges and accomplishments in cardiology, that we spoke about. His mind was sharp as ever but he had become physically frail. I do not think he had mellowed at all.

    I have always appreciated what he did for me and now I pray with the utmost, heartfelt sincerity for his Soul to rest in Peace. But knowing him I am sure he is already busy, up there, setting up cardiac teaching sessions for the angels and anyone else who happens to be there.

    Alnoor Abdulla MD


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