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Harvey William was born in 1578, he was an English physician who became famous for his discovery of how blood circulates in mammals, including human beings.

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Introduction

Suzanne Ashman 'the movement of the blood occurs constantly in a circular manner and is the result of the beating of the heart.' Harvey William was born in 1578, he was an English physician who became famous for his discovery of how blood circulates in mammals, including human beings. He described his discovery in An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals. This work became the basis for all modern research on the heart and blood vessels. Harvey's findings conflicted with the widely accepted theory of blood circulation originated by Galen, who was an ancient Greek physician.Until the early 17th century Claudius Galen's books were still being used in some medical schools. Although Andreas Vesalius had proved some of his ideas to be incorrect, Galen's explanation of the heart was still preferred by most doctors. ...read more.

Middle

By experimenting carefully on live animals and dissecting the bodies of executed criminals, Harvey was able to prove that the heart was a pump which forced blood around the body through arteries. Veins then returned the blood to the heart where it was recycled. Harvey's work was helped by the discovery that veins contained valves. Harvey realised that these valves stopped the blood from travelling back the wrong way to the heart. Galen's theory (that the body made new blood as its supplies were used up) was proved wrong. His observations of dissected hearts showed that the valves in the heart allowed blood to flow in only one direction. Direct observation of the heartbeat of living animals showed that the ventricles contracted together, dispelling Galen's theory that blood was forced from one ventricle to the other.Cautious dissection of the septum of the heart showed that it contained no gaps or perforations. ...read more.

Conclusion

* After his work was published, Harvey actually lost patients, as his ideas were considered eccentric. It was not until after his death that others became convinced that he was right. Therefore Harvey's work made little difference to general medical practice at the time. Blood letting continued to be a popular practice and it was not until the 20th century that doctors realised the importance of checking a patient's blood flow by taking a pulse. Harvey's work did encourage others to investigate blood circulation. His discovery of blood circulation was central to a proper understanding of the workings of the body. Both the discoveries and the methods of Harvey were important. Harvey always did experiments to explain and illustrated what he discovered. This method led medical scientists away from theories that could not be proved by experiment, observation and measurement. Unfortunately Harvey could not show how the blood moved from the arteries to the veins because the capillaries are too small to be seen without a powerful microscope. ...read more.

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