A vital finding for medicine: this is how blood circulation was discovered 400 years ago | Society

The current advance in technology and science makes us forget that these advances have not always been available to humanity and that centuries must have passed in order to reach the level that exists today. Example of this is that it does until 392 years ago people had no idea that blood was circulating.

It was 1628 and the English physician William Harvey, private doctor of the then King Charles I, published the book On the motion of Heart and Blood in Animals in Latin and in Frankfurt, Germany, not even in his native land or in his mother tongue, where his postulates caused a stir and dishonored him for decades.

Until then, Galen’s ideas endured in health scienceThat is, the veins left the liver and the arteries of the heart, bringing the first nutrition to the entire body and the second energy to keep the body alive and functioning.

However, Harvey considered it necessary to explore the subject in greater depth and not only study the human being, but also all the animals that had hearts, with “frequent dissections of living creatures, and with much eyewitness testimony, (para) discern and seek the truth ”, according to his book.

That fascination was born during his medical studies in Padua, Italy, where one of his teachers was already interested in what we now know as the circulatory system. And that was exactly what he did after 1616, which ended with the publication of his book 12 years later.

However, according to the BBC, Harvey admitted that such an objective would be difficult to achieve. “I almost came to believe that the movement of the heart was only known to God (…) because of the speed of the movement, which in some creatures appeared in the blink of an eye, like the passage of lightning,” he wrote in the publication.

“It was after thinking for a long time and considering how abundant the blood that was passing (through the body), and in such a short time, that I finally perceived that either the veins were completely empty and the arteries about to burst with too much intrusion of blood, or the blood returned from the veins to the arteries and returned to the right ventricle of the heart, “said the doctor.

“I started to think if it wasn’t that the movement was circular, something that I later discovered was true ”, he commented in the same publication.

After that, gave his verdict on how the system worked: “First the atrium contracts, which with its contraction throws the blood it contains into the ventricle. With this, the heart that then rises is filled, tightens all its fibers, contracts its ventricles and executes its beat; by means of the pulsation it continuously throws through the arteries that blood that it received from the atrium. ”

“Those things (…) are so new and unknown, that not only I fear that I will be harmed by the ill will of other people, but I also fear that each man is my enemy, because the custom and the doctrine once received and deeply rooted prevail, “he said.

How brought down centuries of undisputed knowledge, his hunch became a reality and although he worked for the king and in the dedication of the book he mentioned the monarch, the connection with the head of state was useless.

Not only did he lose his patients, but the general public called him crazy and he earned the contempt of his colleagues, which only came to change 20 years later, when his work spoke for itself.

His intention to document with evidence everything he published caused a group of doctors of the time to agree with him and, finally, his discovery will be credited as true.

Such was the change of attitude in this regard that, after his death (1657), Oxford researchers began to discuss in 1664 what we know today as blood transfusion.

It was like this in 1666Dick Lower carried out the first transfusion experiment that is recorded in that country, all in a race against the clock to beat the French, who were doing the same.

But on both sides of the channel they had to stop their studies, since one of the French participants died.


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