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Mackenzie, Sir James

heart disease action

(1853–1925) British cardiologist: developed instrumental methods for study of heart disease.

Mackenzie was an Edinburgh medical graduate who did most of his work in Burnley, Lancashire. Following the unexpected death of a pregnant girl from a heart attack, he began to keep regular detailed records of heart action. For this he devised improved instruments to record ink-tracings on paper of the pulses in arteries and veins, which he correlated with heart action. He soon found that some irregularities of rate and rhythm were common and appeared unrelated to disease (previously all such disorders were thought to be signs of disease), while other arrhythmias did point to disease. His book Diseases of the Heart (1908) described his polygraph and its use, and was a milestone in cardiology. His recognition that advanced mitral valve disease leads to auricular fibrillation was a step towards its later treatment. He did much to reintroduce digitalis as a heart drug; it had been used by but had fallen into disfavour because the dose needs careful regulation. The chemically pure digoxin gives much better control and is widely used.

Mackie, Bob [next] [back] Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469–1527) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION

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