Who Discovered the Blood Circulation

William Harvey and Blood Circulation.

English Anatomist Discovered Blood’s Circulatory System. William Harvey was an English physician and anatomist. In 1628, he discovered the circulation of the blood. This finding is a landmark in medical history that marked the beginning of modern physiology. His findings on blood circulation was published in De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis (On the Motions of the Heart and Blood.) He is also known for his studies in the field of embryology.

Harvey was one of the first scientists to use quantitative methods in biological research. His view of the heat as a pump helped established a way of thinking that contributed much to science.

Early Life of William Harvey

William Harvey was born on April 1, 1578, in Folkestone, Kent. He studied medicine at Caius, Cambridge and went to Italy for three years to study at Padua University. He returned to London in 1602. Two years later, he married Elizabeth Browne.

Harvey’s Career Takes on

In 1607, Harvey was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physician. Two years later, he worked as a physician at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. His other appointments included as physician to King James I of England and to King Charles I. Harvey travelled through Europe. For a time, he became a diplomat to Germany and Italy in 1636.

In the mid 16th century, an Italian surgeon and professor at Padua University, Matteo Realdo Colombo, suggested that blood circulates around the body. Colombo also suggested that the heart actively contracts and expels blood, partly through an artery into the lungs, and partly through the aorta into the body. Colombo’s hard evidence was deemed insufficient, although he published his idea in his textbook of anatomy. Harvey must have picked up the idea while a student at Padua.

Blood Flow to its Circulation

Settling in London and marrying the daughter to the king’s physician had an advantage. Harvey did not need to work too hard for a living, and he had more time for research. And more, the close relationships he formed with King James I of England, then King Charles I, enabled him to perform numerous experiments at Windsor’s Royal Estate.

By careful observation in his experiments, Harvey found that blood entered the right side of the heart and was forced into the lungs before returning to the left side of the heart. From there, it was pumped through the aorta into the arteries around the body. Harvey realized that the amount of blood flowing through this system was too much for the liver to produce. Evidently and clearly, Harvey believed that the blood had to be circulating back to the veins.

There were no microscopes those times, and without them, it was impossible for Harvey to see the capillaries that linked the arteries to the veins. He was forced to deduce that blood circulated, by carrying out more series of experiments. From all this he was convinced that the only explanation of his findings was that blood circulated around the body. In 1628, he published his findings.

Later Years of William Harvey

In 1642, the Civil War forced him move to Oxford, leaving London along with King Charles I. At the king’s request he became Warden of Merton College, returning to London in 1647. Harvey refused to accept the position as president of the Royal College of Physicians. He died on June 3, 1657, at the age of 79.

Legacy of William Harvey

From William Harvey’s important contributions, advances in anatomy and modern physiology took on. Four years after his death, Italian biologist Marcelo Malpighi discovered capillaries linking arteries and veins. In another two decades, Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s invention of microscope enabled scientists to see smallest cells such protozoa and bacteria, and he also discovered red blood cells. It took another century before Antoine Lavoisier discovered oxygen, and worked out what it did in the body. Harvey would have been pleased.

William Harvey’s acquaintances included Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Descartes, and Robert Boyle.

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