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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom papers in cardiology’

 1908, Going back on the time machine, more than 100 years ago, world war I was all set to begin, and the great Titanic was being built in the Belfast shipyard. A parallel histroy is being created in cardiology.

This is a brief story of Dr. James Mackenzie, a general practitioner from a remote Scottish village who ended up with the title of the father of British cardiology. Dr. Harvey might have invented circulation, but it was Mackenzie who taught the science of arterial pulse and wrote a classic on the topic to the new medical world. He was able to decode the secrets of the jugular venous pulse as well and diagnosed various arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation at the bedside. He used the polygraph to record his vast observations in pulse and JVP waveforms which were popularised later by Dr. Paulwood. ECG was just beginning to enter the scene in the 1920s. This makes his work all the more significant, as his treatise on pulse and JVP were based purely on clinical acumen.

                                                  Sir James Mackenzie, 1853-1925

Apart from his stupendously successful academic life, it was through his death, that he sent out an extraordinary message to the scientific community. His deep desire to know the truths about coronary atherosclerosis was astonishing. Since he himself was suffering from angina and possibly Infarct, he became his own subject of study. He became case number 28 in his own book on cardiology. When he was on his death bed, as a last wish he Insisted his colleagues do a learning post-mortem and keep his heart in the same hospital he worked. When he died in the early morning of January 25th, 1925, as per his wish, his students Dr. Parkinson,(WPW fame) and another pioneer Dr.Thomas Lewis did an autopsy on his heart.

It is tragic to know about the final days of Dr. Mackenzie’s life and how their beloved students performed the postmortem on their teacher and later published their findings in the British Heart Journal. (BHJ link )It is one of the poignant moments ever recorded in the history of cardiology, a doctor wishing to teach cardiology lessons to the generation next with his dead heart.No surprise, he is being conferred the title of father of British cardiology.

 

Final message

How could an unassuming GP practicing in a remote rural place reach the pinnacle of scientific glory?

Yes, it is possible. Today’s young (super) specialists must realize, that true scientific minds don’t require exotic research labs, tools, or conflict-ridded funds from Industry for the growth of science. All we require is a passion to teach, and the curiosity to learn. The rest of the things will follow… I think that was the message in the great life of Sir James Mackenzie.


 

Further reading

 

james mackenzie heart

http://www.dundee.ac.uk/museum/exhibitions/medical/cardiology/cardiology1/

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