It is with great sadness that the European Heart Rhythm Association informs its members of the passing of a leader in the field of heart rhythm disorders, Dr. Berndt Luederitz, on 20 November 2021 in Munich, Germany.
Berndt Luederitz was born in Braunschwieg, Germany during World War II. His early life was characterised by family separation in the war years. After the war, his father resumed his medical career as Professor of Cardiology at the German University in Prague and this exposure initiated an early interest in cardiovascular medicine as well as a focus on the classical languages and history. Luderitz started his medical studies at the University of Munich and graduated in 1965 and specialised in cardiology. His doctoral thesis on the subject of the impact of hormones on cardiac excitation at the University of Gottingen led to a lifelong commitment to cardiac electrophysiology. He returned to the University of Munich as a faculty member with a strong interest in cardiac pacing. He subsequently assumed the Chair of the Department of Cardiology and Pneumology at the University of Bonn in 1982, which he successfully led for 23 years. He established a strong experimental and clinical electrophysiology programme placing Bonn among the leading European centres for arrhythmia studies.
His group showed the feasibility of implanting an anti-tachycardia pacemaker with an implantable defibrillator in an attempt to combine two electrical therapy modes. These early studies in anti-tachycardia pacing led to a long-term collaboration with our group in New Jersey in many aspects of non-pharmacologic therapy of tachycardias. Our long personal and professional relationship led to the definition of the field of interventional electrophysiology, a term we coined in 1988 which was codified by quadrennial meetings in USA and Europe for three decades.
Luderitz was an enormous influence in the development of cardiac pacing and electrophysiology in Europe and became an educator and teacher in all worldwide fora. In his later years, his long-term interest in the history of medicine occupied his efforts and he published two textbooks on the history of cardiac arrhythmias and the founders of this field.
He is survived by his wife, Hedwig and his sons Florian, Martin, and Stefan and their families. His trainees continue his work in nonpharmacologic therapy of tachycardias and are leaders of German cardiology today.
Sanjeev Saksena, MD, FESC, FHRS, FAHA, FACC
Professor of Medicine
Rutgers- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Electrophysiology Research Foundation
Warren, New Jersey