Arthur Klatsky, MD (1929 – 2023)

Arthur L. Klatsky, BA (Yale University), MD (Harvard University) was a Senior Consultant in Cardiology and an Adjunct Investigator at the Division of Research at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, California, with which he was affiliated for more than forty years.  For a number of years he carried the dual responsibilities of being chief of the Division of Cardiology as well as the principal investigator in a world famous ongoing research study. He served as Chief of the Division of Cardiology at Oakland from 1978 to 1994, and as Director of the Coronary Care Unit from 1968 to 1990.

From 1977 Dr. Klatsky was Principal Investigator of a series of studies of the relations between drinking alcoholic beverages and health.  He wrote and lectured extensively on relationships of alcohol consumption to cardiovascular conditions.  His 1974 article “Alcohol consumption before myocardial infarction: Results from the Kaiser-Permanente epidemiologic study of myocardial infarction” (Ann Intern Med; 81:294-301) was the first published epidemiologic report of an inverse relationship between alcohol drinking and coronary disease and was cited by the NIAAA in 1995 as one of 16 “seminal” articles in alcohol research.  Since that time, governments, prestigious medical journals and public health policy groups like the American Heart Association all turned to Dr. Arthur Klatsky for consultation about alcohol and health.  Hardly an article is published in literature on this subject without his name among the references.  In fact, more than sixty studies have been published confirming Klatsky’s surprising report that, as he put it, “Abstinence can be hazardous to some persons’ health.”  His studies of the relationship between drinking and heart problems led Klatsky to be one of the first to present the now- famous U-shaped curve, in which graphic data about drinking follows a U-shaped pattern.  Moderate drinkers, with the lowest risk, are at the bottom of the U, while abstainers and heavy drinkers face higher risks.  In 1992, he received the first Thomas B. Turner Award for Research Excellence by the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation.  In 1995 the National Academies of Practice named him a Distinguished Practitioner.  Since 1997, he was an Associate Editor of The Permanente Journal and was a 2000-2001 Health Forum Cardiovascular Health Fellowship Awardee.