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Tex Heart Inst J. 1987 Mar;14(1):5-11.

Jean-Baptiste Sénac and his treatise on the heart.

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The Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77550-2782, USA.


Jean-Baptiste Sénac's treatise on the heart is considered a landmark in the history of cardiology. In Traité de la structure du coeur, de son action, et de ses maladies (1749), Sénac dealt systematically with the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the heart, offering the results of anatomical investigations and postmortem examinations. This paper focuses on Sénac's work on the muscular structure of the heart, as well as on the diseases of the cardiovascular system. It shows that palpitations, aneurysms, the dilatation and inflammation of the heart, valvular lesions, and blood clots, were among the problems frequently reported by Sénac and his contemporaries. Sénac's treatise is important because it reveals the state of the art in cardiology before the development of such diagnostic techniques as percussion of the chest and mediate auscultation.


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