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September 11 , 2010

On the Motion of the Heart and Blood [Christmas Summary Classics]


Christmas Summary Classics
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On the Motion of the Heart and Blood
William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, was born at Folkestone, England, on April 1, 1578. After graduating from Caius College, Cambridge, he studied at Padua, where he had the celebrated anatomist, Fabricius of Aquapendente, for his master. In 1615 he was elected Lumleian lecturer at the College of Physicians, and three years later was appointed physician extraordinary to King James I. In 1628, twelve years after his first statement of it in his lectures, he published at Frankfurt, in Latin, "An Anatomical Disquisition on the Motion of the Heart and Blood," in which he maintained that there is a circulation of the blood. Moreover, he distinguished between the pulmonary circulation, from the right side of the heart to the left through the lungs, and the systemic circulation from the left side of the heart to the right through the rest of the body. Further, he maintained that it was the office of the heart to maintain this circulation by its alternate diastole (expansion) and systole (contraction) throughout life. This discovery was, says Sir John Simon, the most important ever made in physiological science. It is recorded that after his publication of it Harvey lost most of his practice. Harvey died on June 3, 1657.

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