Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about The Harvard Classics Volume 38.
And, again, as the fibres run from the apex to the base, and draw the apex towards the base, they do not tend to make the walls of the heart bulge out in circles, but rather the contrary; inasmuch as every fibre that is circularly disposed, tends to become straight when it contracts; and is distended laterally and thickened, as in the case of muscular fibres in general, when they contract, that is, when they are shortened longitudinally, as we see them in the bellies of the muscles of the body at large.  To all this let it be added, that not only are the ventricles contracted in virtue of the direction and condensation of their walls, but farther, that those fibres, or bands, styled nerves by Aristotle, which are so conspicuous in the ventricles of the larger animals, and contain all the straight fibres (the parietes of the heart containing only circular ones), when they contract simultaneously by an admirable adjustment all the internal surfaces are drawn together as if with cords, and so is the charge of blood expelled with force.

Neither is it true, as vulgarly believed, that the heart by any dilatation or motion of its own, has the power of drawing the blood into the ventricles; for when it acts and becomes tense, the blood is expelled; when it relaxes and sinks together it receives the blood in the manner and wise which will by-and-by be explained.


Of the motions of the arteries, as seen in the dissection of living animals

In connexion with the motions of the heart these things are further to be observed having reference to the motions and pulses of the arteries.

1.  At the moment the heart contracts, and when the breast is struck, when in short the organ is in its state of systole, the arteries are dilated, yield a pulse, and are in the state of diastole.  In like manner, when the right ventricle contracts and propels its charge of blood, the pulmonary artery is distended at the same time with the other arteries of the body.

2.  When the left ventricle ceases to act, to contract, to pulsate, the pulse in the arteries also ceases; further, when this ventricle contracts languidly, the pulse in the arteries is scarcely perceptible.  In like manner, the pulse in the right ventricle failing, the pulse in the pulmonary artery ceases also.

3.  Further, when an artery is divided or punctured, the blood is seen to be forcibly propelled from the wound the moment the left ventricle contracts; and, again, when the pulmonary artery is wounded, the blood will be seen spouting forth with violence at the instant when the right ventricle contracts.

So also in fishes, if the vessel which leads from the heart to the gills be divided, at the moment when the heart becomes tense and contracted, at the same moment does the blood flow with force from the divided vessel.

Follow Us on Facebook