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William Harvey

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Introduction

William Harvey William Harvey made a significant contribution to the understanding of the circulation of the blood in the body. William Harvey (1578-1657), English physician, discovered the circulation of blood and the role of the heart in its propulsion. Harvey was a doctor at St. Bartholomew's hospital in London and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. He was also the physician to James I and Charles I. Harvey studied in Italy at the University of Padua where he became interested in anatomy and in particular, the work of Vesalius. In 1615 Harvey began to work on the idea that blood circulated around the body. By experimenting 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. ...read more.

Middle

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. Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694), an Italian physician, used better quality microscopes to prove that Harvey's ideas were correct. Marcello Malpighi was a seventeenth century Italian physiologist who directed his microscope toward biological investigations and became one of the greatest microscopists of all time. His first publication in 1661 announced his observations on the anatomy of the frog lung. While observing dissected lung tissue, Malpighi discovered a network of tiny thin-walled microtubules, which he named capillaries. He went on to hypothesize that capillaries were the connection between arteries and veins that allowed blood to flow back to the heart. ...read more.

Conclusion

Galen had at least concluded the cardiovascular system carried blood and not air, and also managed to cast some doubt on the theories of Aristotle who thought that maybe blood arose in the liver; and the thoughts of others, that the pounding in a person's chest was but the soul speaking to us. 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, e.g. the blood's role in carrying air from the lungs. His discovery of blood circulation was central to a proper understanding of the workings of the body. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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