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William Harvey.

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William Harvey William Harvey was born in 1578, around the time of Shakespeare, and grew to receive a fine education and a degree at Cambridge at the age of 20, and then went on to study in Italy at Padua University, the most prestigious medical university in Europe at that time. He graduated with honours and returned to England in 1602 to return to Cambridge and receive another medical degree from Cambridge. It was then that he decided he had enough education and began to formally practise medicine. Harvey's true passion was circulation. At the time, common belief was that food was absorbed into the liver and then changed into blood, which was used as a fuel for the body. ...read more.


He also established that the arteries pulsed as a result of the hearts beating in pulses. Harvey's main and most important discovery which was in fact what helped him on most in his study of the circulatory system was what entirely destroyed Galen's theories. Harvey noticed that the volume of blood pumped out of the heart in one hour was much greater than the volume of the entire animal that the heart belonged to. This proved the blood must circulate, otherwise the arteries would explode under the pressure. Harvey wrote: "Since all things, both argument and ocular demonstration, show that the blood passes through the lungs and heart by the force of the ventricles, and is sent for distribution to all parts of the body, where it makes its way into the veins ...read more.


He experimented this by binding a person's arm so that arterial blood could flow down it, but venal blood could not return back up the arm. Harvey saw that the veins had become swollen, meaning the blood had come from the arteries and out into the veins. This also meant that there had to be some kind of connection between the veins and arteries. These are capillaries - he knew they had to be present but he could not see them as they are so small. Harvey also understood how the valves inside veins stopped blood from flowing backwards (they close if blood flows the wrong way) and how the pressure in the arteries causes them to rapidly flow only one way. Another thing Harvey could now explain was how poisons could so quickly spread through the body. ...read more.

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